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Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

Jianhui Li, Yaming Li
The development of biotechnologies has broadly interfered with a number of life processes, including human birth. An important moral question arises from the application of such medical technologies to birth: do biotechnological advancements violate human dignity? Many valid arguments have been raised. Yet bioethicists are still far from reaching a consensus on how best to protect the dignity of human birth. Confucianism is an influential ethical theory in China and presents a distinctive understanding of human dignity...
August 29, 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Kyle E Karches
Experts in medical informatics have argued for the incorporation of ever more machine-learning algorithms into medical care. As artificial intelligence (AI) research advances, such technologies raise the possibility of an "iDoctor," a machine theoretically capable of replacing the judgment of primary care physicians. In this article, I draw on Martin Heidegger's critique of technology to show how an algorithmic approach to medicine distorts the physician-patient relationship. Among other problems, AI cannot adapt guidelines according to the individual patient's needs...
July 10, 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Rose Hershenov, Derek Doroski
This paper presents an account of how human spontaneous embryonic chimeras are formed. On the prevalent view in the philosophical literature, it is said that chimeras are the product of two embryos that fuse to form a new third embryo. We call this version of fusion synthesis. In contrast to synthesis, we present an alternative mechanism for chimera formation called incorporation, wherein one embryo incorporates the cells of a second embryo into its body. We argue that the incorporation thesis explains other types of chimera formation, which are better understood, and is more consistent than synthesis with what is known about embryological development...
August 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Michelle Bach
Violence in psychiatric clinics has been a consistent problem since the birth of modern psychiatry. In this paper, I examine current efforts to understand and reduce both violence and coercive responses to violence in psychiatry, arguing that these efforts are destined to fall short. By and large, scholarship on psychiatric violence reduction has focused on identifying discrete factors that are statistically associated with violence, such as patient demographics and clinical qualities, in an effort to quantify risk and predict violent acts before they happen...
August 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Michael L Gross
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
August 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Jeff Levin
Research and writing at the intersection of faith and medicine by now include thousands of published studies, review articles, books, chapters, and essays. Yet this emerging field has been described, from within, as disheveled on account of imprecision and lack of careful attention to conceptual and theoretical concerns. An important source of confusion is the fact that scholarship in this field constitutes two distinct literatures, or rather meta-literatures, which can be termed (a) faith as a problematic for medicine and (b) medicine as a problematic for faith...
August 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Zohar Lederman
Several bioethicists have recently advocated the force-feeding of prisoners, based on the assumption that prisoners have reduced or no autonomy. This assumed lack of autonomy follows from a decrease in cognitive competence, which, in turn, supposedly derives from imprisonment and/or being on hunger strike. In brief, causal links are made between imprisonment or voluntary total fasting (VTF) and mental disorders and between mental disorders and lack of cognitive competence. I engage the bioethicists that support force-feeding by severing both of these causal links...
August 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Farr A Curlin
Practitioners of palliative medicine frequently encounter patients suffering distress caused by uncontrolled pain or other symptoms. To relieve such distress, palliative medicine clinicians often use measures that result in sedation of the patient. Often such sedation is experienced as a loss by patients and their family members, but sometimes such sedation is sought as the desired outcome. Peace is wanted. Comfort is needed. Sedation appears to bring both. Yet to be sedated is to be cut off existentially from human experience, to be made incapable of engaging self-consciously in any human action...
June 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Daniel P Sulmasy
A number of practices at the end of life can causally contribute to diminished consciousness in dying patients. Despite overlapping meanings and a confusing plethora of names in the published literature, this article distinguishes three types of clinically and ethically distinct practices: (1) double-effect sedation, (2) parsimonious direct sedation, and (3) sedation to unconsciousness and death. After exploring the concept of suffering, the value of consciousness, the philosophy of therapy, the ethical importance of intention, and the rule of double effect, these three practices are defined clearly and evaluated ethically...
June 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Thomas A Cavanaugh
Among the oldest extant medical ethics, the Hippocratic Oath prohibits the giving of a deadly drug, regarding this act as an egregious violation of a medical ethic that is exclusively therapeutic. Proportionate palliative sedation involves the administration of a deadly drug. Hence it seems to violate the venerable Hippocratic promise associated with the dawn of Western medicine not to give a deadly drug. Relying on distinctions commonly employed in the analysis and evaluation of human actions, this article distinguishes physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, as acts that necessarily violate the prohibition against giving a deadly drug, from proportionate palliative sedation, as an act that does not...
June 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Douglas Farrow
Developing the ethics of palliative sedation, particularly in contrast to terminal sedation, requires consideration of the relation between body and soul and of the nature of death and dying. Christianly considered, it also requires attention to the human vocation to immortality and hence to the relation between medicine (as aid for the body) and discipline (as aid to the soul). Leaning on Augustine's rendering of the latter, this paper provides a larger anthropological and soteriological frame of reference for the ethics of palliative sedation, organized by way of nine briefly expounded theses...
June 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Gilbert Meilaender
This essay considers whether palliative sedation is or is not appropriate medical care. This requires one to consider (a) whether, in addition to the good of health, relief of suffering is also a proper end of medicine; (b) whether unconsciousness can ever be a good for a human being; and (c) how double-effect reasoning can help us think about difficult cases. The author concludes that palliative sedation may be proper medical care, but only in a limited range of cases.
June 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Daniel P Sulmasy
This special issue of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics takes up the question of palliative sedation as a source of potential concern or controversy among Christian clinicians and thinkers. Christianity affirms a duty to relieve unnecessary suffering yet also proscribes euthanasia. Accordingly, the question arises as to whether it is ever morally permissible to render dying patients unconscious in order to relieve their suffering. If so, under what conditions? Is this practice genuinely morally distinguishable from euthanasia? Can one ever aim directly at making a dying person unconscious, or is it only permissible to tolerate unconsciousness as an unintended side effect of treating specific symptoms? What role does the rule of double effect play in making such decisions? Does spiritual or psychological suffering ever justify sedation to unconsciousness? What are the theological and spiritual aspects of such care? This introduction describes how the authors in this special issue wrestle with such questions and shows how each essay relates to the author's individual position on palliative sedation, as developed in greater detail within his contribution...
June 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Neil Levy
Proposals for regulating or nudging healthy choices are controversial. Opponents often argue that individuals should take responsibility for their own health, rather than be paternalistically manipulated for their own good. In this paper, I argue that people can take responsibility for their own health only if they satisfy certain epistemic conditions, but we live in an epistemic environment in which these conditions are not satisfied. Satisfying the epistemic conditions for taking responsibility, I argue, requires regulation of this environment...
April 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Stephen Buetow, Natalie Gauld
Person-centered care offers a promising way to manage clinicians' conscientious objection to providing services they consider morally wrong. Health care centered on persons, rather than patients, recognizes clinicians and patients on the same stratum. The moral interests of clinicians, as persons, thus warrant as much consideration as those of other persons, including patients. Interconnected moral interests of clinicians, patients, and society construct the clinician as a socially embedded and integrated self, transcending the simplistic duality of private conscience versus public role expectations...
April 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Lantz Fleming Miller
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
April 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Claudia Bozzaro
Physician-assisted dying (assisted suicide and euthanasia) is currently an intensely discussed topic in several countries. Despite differences in legislation and application, countries with end-of-life laws have similar eligibility criteria for assistance in dying: individuals must be in a hopeless situation and experience unbearable suffering. Hopelessness, as a basic aspect of the human condition, is a central topic in Albert Camus' philosophical work The Myth of Sisyphus, which addresses the question of suicide...
April 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Luke Kallberg
I argue that the separation of conjoined twins in infancy or early childhood is unethical (rare exceptions aside). Cases may be divided into three types: both twins suffer from lethal abnormalities, only one twin has a lethal abnormality, or neither twin does. In the first kind of case, there is no reason to separate, since both twins will die regardless of treatment. In the third kind of case, I argue that separation at an early age is unethical because the twins are likely to achieve an irreplaceably good quality of life-the goods of conjoinment-that separation takes away...
February 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Juliette Ferry-Danini
According to recent approaches in the philosophy of medicine, biomedicine should be replaced or complemented by a humanistic medical model. Two humanistic approaches, narrative medicine and the phenomenology of medicine, have grown particularly popular in recent decades. This paper first suggests that these humanistic criticisms of biomedicine are insufficient. A central problem is that both approaches seem to offer a straw man definition of biomedicine. It then argues that the subsequent definition of humanism found in these approaches is problematically reduced to a compassionate or psychological understanding...
February 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Adam Omelianchuk
Although much has been written on the dead-donor rule (DDR) in the last twenty-five years, scant attention has been paid to how it should be formulated, what its rationale is, and why it was accepted. The DDR can be formulated in terms of either a Don't Kill rule or a Death Requirement, the former being historically rooted in absolutist ethics and the latter in a prudential policy aimed at securing trust in the transplant enterprise. I contend that the moral core of the rule is the Don't Kill rule, not the Death Requirement...
February 2018: Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
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