In 1927, Fritz Jahr, a Protestant pastor, philosopher, and educator in Halle an der Saale, published an article entitled "Bio-Ethics: A Review of the Ethical Relationships of Humans to Animals and Plants" and proposed a "Bioethical Imperative," extending Kant's moral imperative to all forms of life. Reviewing new physiological knowledge of his times and moral challenges associated with the development of secular and pluralistic societies, Jahr redefines moral obligations towards human and nonhuman forms of life, outlining the concept of bioethics as an academic discipline, principle, and virtue. Although he had no immediate long-lasting influence during politically and morally turbulent times, his argument that new science and technology requires new ethical and philosophical reflection and resolve may contribute toward clarification of terminology and of normative and practical visions of bioethics, including understanding of the geoethical dimensions of bioethics.
Those who are morally opposed to abortion generally make several pivotal assumptions. This paper focuses on the assumption that we have full moral status throughout our existence. Coupled with the assumption that we come into existence at conception, the assumption about moral status entails that all human fetuses have full moral status, including a right to life. Is the assumption about moral status correct? In addressing this question, I respond to several arguments advanced, in this journal and other venues, by Alfonso Gómez-Lobo. Gómez-Lobo's reasoning resolves into two basic arguments: (1) an appeal to the practical necessity of early moral protection and (2) an appeal to our kind membership and potentiality. I respond to these in turn before offering further reflections.
This paper starts from three assumptions: that we are essentially human organisms, that we start to exist at conception, and that we retain our identity throughout our lives. The identity claim provides the background to argue that it is irrational for a person to claim that it would be impermissible to kill her now but permissible to have killed her at an earlier age. The notion of "full moral status" as an ascertainable property is questioned and shown to be dependent on previously accepted moral norms. It is concluded that the exclusion of the very young from the scope of the norm o f common morality that prohibits the killing of the innocent amounts to discrimination on the basis of age.
This paper examines the nature of the harm-benefit tradeoff in early clinical research for interventions that involve remote possibility of direct benefit and likelihood of direct harms to research participants with fatal prognoses, by drawing on the example of gene transfer trials for glioblastoma multiforme. We argue that the appeal made by the component approach to clinical equipoise fails to account fully for the nature of the harm-benefit tradeoff—individual harm for social benefit—that would be required to justify such research. An analysis of what we label "collateral affective benefits," such as the experience of hope or exercise of altruism, shows that the existence of these motivations reinforces rather than mitigates the necessity of justification by reference to social benefit. Evaluations of social benefit must be taken seriously in the research ethics review process to avoid the exploitation of research participants' motivations of hope or altruism and to avoid the possibility of inadvertent exploitation of high-risk research participants and the harms that would associate with such exploitation.
This essay distinguishes between two kinds of group harms: harms to individuals in virtue of their membership in groups and harms to "structured" groups that have a continuing existence, an organization, and interests of their own. Genetic research creates risks of causing both kinds of group harms, and engagement with the groups at risk can help to mitigate those harms. The two kinds of group harms call for different kinds of group engagement.
The idea of enhancing our mental functions through medical means makes many people uncomfortable. People have a vague feeling that altering our brains tinkers with the core of our personalities and the core of ourselves. It changes who we are, and doing so seems wrong, even if the exact reasons for the unease are difficult to define. Many of the standard arguments against neuroenhancements—that they are unsafe, that they violate the distinction between therapy and enhancements, that they undermine equality, and that they will be used coercively—fail to show why the use of any such technologies is wrong in principle. Two other objections—the arguments that such changes undermine our integrity and that they prevent us from living authentic lives—will condemn only a few of the uses that are proposed. The result is that very few uses of these drugs are morally suspect and that most uses are morally permissible.