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Baier, Annette. Reflections on How We Live
2010, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord

Back Matter: The pioneering moral philosopher Annette Baier presents a series of new and recent essays in ethics, broadly conceived to include both engagements with other philosophers and personal meditations on life. Baier’s unique voice and insight illuminate a wide range of topics. In the public sphere, she enquires into patriotism, what we owe future people, and what toleration we should have for killing. In the private sphere, she discusses honesty, self-knowledge, hope, sympathy, and self-trust, and offers personal reflections on faces, friendship, and alienating affection.

Comment: The essays in this book are self-contained and accessible conversation starters. A number of them would make good initial readings for a class or unit on political ethics (concerning toleration, nationalism, and patriotism), friendship and love (concerning trust, friendship, and intimacy), and the ethics of reproduction and population.

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Chong-Ming Lim, Michael C. Dunn, Jacqueline J. Chin. Clarifying the best interests standard: the elaborative and enumerative strategies in public policy-making
2016, Journal of Medical Ethics 42(8), 1-8
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: One recurring criticism of the best interests standard concerns its vagueness, and thus the inadequate guidance it offers to care providers. The lack of an agreed definition of ‘best interests’, together with the fact that several suggested considerations adopted in legislation or professional guidelines for doctors do not obviously apply across different groups of persons, result in decisions being made in murky waters. In response, bioethicists have attempted to specify the best interests standard, to reduce the indeterminacy surrounding medical decisions. In this paper, we discuss the bioethicists’ response in relation to the state’s possible role in clarifying the best interests standard. We identify and characterise two clarificatory strategies employed by bioethicists —elaborative and enumerative—and argue that the state should adopt the latter. Beyond the practical difficulties of the former strategy, a state adoption of it would inevitably be prejudicial in a pluralistic society. Given the gravity of best interests decisions, and the delicate task of respecting citizens with different understandings of best interests, only the enumerative strategy is viable. We argue that this does not commit the state to silence in providing guidance to and supporting healthcare providers, nor does it facilitate the abuse of the vulnerable. Finally, we address two methodological worries about adopting this approach at the state level. The adoption of the enumerative strategy is not defeatist in attitude, nor does it eventually collapse into (a form of) the elaborative strategy.

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Chong-Ming Lim. Effectiveness and ecumenicity
2019, Journal of Moral Philosophy 16(5), 590–612
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, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: Effective altruism is purportedly ecumenical towards different moral views, charitable causes, and evidentiary methods. I argue that effective altruists’ criticisms of purportedly less effective charities are inconsistent with their commitment to ecumenicity. Individuals may justifiably support charities other than those recommended by effective altruism. If effective altruists take their commitment to ecumenicity seriously, they will have to revise their criticisms of many of these charities.

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Ciurria, Michelle. Is There a Duty to Use Moral Neurointerventions?
2017, Topoi 38(1): 37-47.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Emma Gordon

Abstract: Do we have a duty to use moral neurointerventions to correct deficits in our moral psychology? On their surface, these technologies appear to pose worrisome risks to valuable dimensions of the self, and these risks could conceivably weigh against any prima facie moral duty we have to use these technologies. Focquaert and Schermer (Neuroethics 8(2):139–151, 2015) argue that neurointerventions pose special risks to the self because they operate passively on the subject-s brain, without her active participation, unlike ‘active- interventions. Some neurointerventions, however, appear to be relatively unproblematic, and some appear to preserve the agent-s sense of self precisely because they operate passively. In this paper, I propose three conditions that need to be met for a medical intervention to be considered low-risk, and I say that these conditions cut across the active/passive divide. A low-risk intervention must: (i) pass pre-clinical and clinical trials, (ii) fare well in post-clinical studies, and (iii) be subject to regulations protecting informed consent. If an intervention passes these tests, its risks do not provide strong countervailing reasons against our prima facie duty to undergo the intervention.

Comment: Proposes an account of low-risk medical interventions and argues that the risks attached to moral enhancements falling into this category are insufficient to provide us with strong reasons against our duty to undergo the intervention. Useful to read when exploring the issue of whether we are obligated to morally enhance (as e.g. Savulescu and Persson have argued).

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Haramia, Chelsea. Applied Ethics
2018, 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Nathan Nobis

Abstract: To date, there are several areas of applied ethical study. Given their situational nature, they are often distinct from one another, though they regularly employ similar methods detailed here. Applied ethicists qua applied ethicists are more concerned with particular cases than with more abstract theoretical questions. They aim to apply their ethical training to the study of actual ethical situations, and to draw conclusions about the moral status of scenarios that people out in the world actually encounter, and of situations that have real, practical import.

Comment: An overview of the nature of applied or practical ethics.

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Harman, Elizabeth. The potentiality problem
2003, Philosophical Studies 114 (1-2):173 - 198.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Many people face a problem about potentiality: their moral beliefs appear to dictate inconsistent views about the signifcance of the potentiality to become a healthy adult. Briefy, the problem arises as follows. Consider the following two claims. First, both human babies and cats have moral status, but harms to babies matter more, morally, than similar harms to cats. Second, early human embryos lack moral status. It appears that the first claim can only be true if human babies have more moral status than cats. Among the properties that determine moral status, human babies have no properties other than their potentiality that could explain their having more moral status than cats. So human babies’ potentiality to become adult persons must explain their having more moral status than cats. But then potentiality must raise moral status generally. So early human embryos must have some moral status. It appears that the view that must underlie the first claim implies that the second claim is false.

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