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Inmaculada de Melo-Martin. Rethinking Reprogenetics: Enhancing Ethical Analyses of Reprogenetic Technologies
2017, New York: Oxford University Press
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Added by: Björn Freter
Publisher's Note: Reprogenetic technologies, which combine the power of reproductive techniques with the tools of genetic science and technology, promise prospective parents a remarkable degree of control to pick and choose the likely characteristics of their offspring. Not only can they select embryos with or without particular genetically-related diseases and disabilities but also choose embryos with non-disease related traits such as sex. Prominent authors such as Agar, Buchanan, DeGrazia, Green, Harris, Robertson, Savulescu, and Silver have flocked to the banner of reprogenetics. For them, increased reproductive choice and reduced suffering through the elimination of genetic disease and disability are just the first step. They advocate use of these technologies to create beings who enjoy longer and healthier lives, possess greater intellectual capacities, and are capable of more refined emotional experiences. Indeed, Harris and Savulescu in particular take reprogenetic technologies to be so valuable to human beings that they have insisted that their use is not only morally permissible but morally required. Rethinking Reprogenetics challenges this mainstream view with a contextualised, gender-attentive philosophical perspective. De Melo-Martín demonstrates that you do not have to be a Luddite, social conservative, or religious zealot to resist the siren song of reprogenetics. Pointing out the flawed nature of the arguments put forward by the technologies' proponents, Rethinking Reprogenetics reveals the problematic nature of the assumptions underpinning current evaluations of these technologies and offers a framework for a more critical and sceptical assessment.

Comment: This book could be used in a variety of upper division undergraduate and graduate courses including those in bioethics, philosophy of technology, contemporary moral issues, science, technology, and society, and philosophy of medicine. It critically assesses the arguments of those who enthusiastically support reprogenetic technologies from a feminist perspective that takes science and technology to be value-laden and gendered.

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Peter, Elizabeth, Liaschenko, Joan. Moral Distress Reexamined: A Feminist Interpretation of Nurses’ Identities, Relationships, and Responsibilites
2013, The Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. 10: 337–345.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Abstract: Moral distress has been written about extensively in nursing and other fields. Often, however, it has not been used with much theoretical depth. This paper focuses on theorizing moral distress using feminist ethics, particularly the work of Margaret Urban Walker and Hilde Lindemann. Incorporating empirical findings, we argue that moral distress is the response to constraints experienced by nurses to their moral identities, responsibilities, and relationships. We recommend that health professionals get assistance in accounting for and communicating their values and responsibilities in situations of moral distress. We also discuss the importance of nurses creating “counterstories” of their work as knowledgeable and trustworthy professionals to repair their damaged moral identities, and, finally, we recommend that efforts toward shifting the goal of health care away from the prolongation of life at all costs to the relief of suffering to diminish the moral distress that is a common response to aggressive care at end-of-life.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Moral distress is, roughly, when a healthcare worker is institutionally constrained to act against their best moral judgement. A typical example is a nurse being prevented from giving care they deem morally required because they are hierarchically constrained by the orders of a physician. Moral distress has been much discussed in nursing ethics, but is almost entirely absent from broader bioethics syllabi and conversations. This paper examines moral distress through a lens of feminist care ethics. In doing so, it draws lessons that apply very broadly throughout professional ethics.

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Purdy, Laura M.. Reproducing Persons: Issues in Feminist Bioethics
1996, Cornell University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Publisher's Note: Controversies about abortion and women's reproductive technologies often seem to reflect personal experience, religious commitment, or emotional response. Laura M. Purdy believes, however, that coherent ethical principles are implicit in these controversies and that feminist bioethics can help clarify the conflicts of interest which often figure in human reproduction. As she defines the underlying issues, Purdy emphasizes the importance of taking women's interests fully into account. Reproducing Persons first explores the rights and duties connected with conception and pregnancy. Purdy asks whether conceiving a child or taking a pregnancy to term can ever be morally wrong. She challenges the thinking of those who feel the prospect of disability or serious genetic disease should not constrain conception or justify abortion. The essays next look at abortion from a variety of angles. One contends that killing fetuses is not murder; others emphasize the moral importance of access to abortion. Purdy considers the conflicting interests of women and men regarding abortion, and argues against requiring a husband's consent. The book concludes with a consideration of new reproductive technologies and arrangements, including the controversial issue of surrogacy, or contract pregnancy. Throughout, Purdy combines traditional utilitarianism with some of the most powerful insights of contemporary feminist ethics. Her provocative essays create guidelines for approaching new topics and inspire fresh thinking about old ones.

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Wiesler, Christine. Epistemic Oppression and Ableism in Bioethics
2020, Hypatia. 35: 714–732.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Abstract: Disabled people face obstacles to participation in epistemic communities that would be beneficial for making sense of our experiences and are susceptible to epistemic oppression. Knowledge and skills grounded in disabled people's experiences are treated as unintelligible within an ableist hermeneutic, specifically, the dominant conception of disability as lack. My discussion will focus on a few types of epistemic oppression—willful hermeneutical ignorance, epistemic exploitation, and epistemic imperialism—as they manifest in some bioethicists’ claims about and interactions with disabled people. One of the problems with the epistemic phenomena with which I am concerned is that they direct our skepticism regarding claims and justifications in the wrong direction. When we ought to be asking dominantly situated epistemic agents to justify their knowledge claims, our attention is instead directed toward skepticism regarding the accounts of marginally situated agents who are actually in a better position to know. I conclude by discussing disabled knowers’ responses to epistemic oppression, including articulating the epistemic harm they have undergone as well as ways of creating resistant ways of knowing.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Wieseler draws on resources developed by feminists and disability theorists to critique the practice of philosophical bioethics (bioethics done by philosophers). In particular, she argues that philosophical bioethics involves and perpetuates ableism. Among its many problems, this ableism is epistemically fraught. It interferes with disabled people’s ability to participate in various kinds of knowledge production. Wieseler uses a lot of technical terms—like epistemic exploitation, epistemic imperialism, and willful hermeneutical ignorance—but she explains everything clearly and the payoff is worthwhile. Wieseler uses these concepts to develop a powerful and thought-provoking critique of bioethical practice with respect to disability. The concepts are also useful in broader contexts, as we’ll see in section 3.

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