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  • Legal Commentary Society
  • Gregory E. Kaebnick

One of the early steps in the process of putting together an issue of the Hastings Center Report is ticking through each column we plan to run in that issue and making sure that we have somebody lined up to write it and—if we already have somebody lined up to write it—that the person hasn't forgotten. But as this issue approached, one of those we had all nicely lined up contacted us first, to say that he was retiring from this particular gig.

For many years, we have had a wonderful rotating line-up for At Law: Rebecca Dresser, of Washington University of St. Louis; Lawrence O. Gostin, of George Washington University; and Carl Schneider, of the University of Michigan, have taken turns, each writing twice a year. Carl, who over roughly a decade of arguing with me about words, citations, inferences, snippets of Latin, and obscure literary allusions has become a good friend as well as a greatly valued contributor, has signed off. It feels like the end of an era.

Relying partly on Carl's help, we have lined up a new set of contributors for At Law, and we've also expanded the line-up to six contributors, so that each writes once per year. Besides Rebecca Dresser and Lawrence Gostin, the slate includes Mark Hall, of Wake Forest University; Sandy Johnson, of St. Louis University; Jonathan Marks, of Pennsylvania State University; and Anita Allen, of the University of Pennsylvania. We did not get anybody lined up for the January-February issue, however; none of the new recruits can leap into the breach until the weather turns.

We managed to line up some other things, though. Both articles are about strategies for arguing in favor of developing and using technologies that parents can use to enhance their children, and in the commentary on the page opposite, Ronald M. Green, who teaches religion and ethics at Dartmouth College, writes that the lead article shows what's wrong with one kind of argument. It's time to move past conse-quentialism, he concludes.

The issue also includes a set of essays on an issue that, at least within bioethics, has gone largely unexplored. In the lead essay, a group of authors led by Blair Sadler, former president and chief executive officer of the Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego and now, among other things, a senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (and a Hastings board member), argues that how health care facilities are designed—their architecture, interior design, how intensive care is integrated into other care levels, whether hospital staff have places to go to catch a breath, and so on—is itself an important topic of bioethical discussion. It can help patients recover more quickly, reduce nosocomial infection, reduce health care mistakes, improve the morale of staff, and improve the hospital experience for patients' families. It can also reduce a facility's environmental impact. Finally, it makes good business sense; though the upfront costs are greater, the facilities save money in the long term.

The term "bioethics" was originally coined to refer to ethical issues in biology generally, encompassing not just medical ethics, the ethics of medical research, and the ethics of biotechnologies, but also the ethics of human handling of the biosphere. The Hastings Center, along with the rest of bioethics, has tended to gravitate toward parts of this range—toward those issues that concern human biology. One nice feature of this essay set is that it opens up the whole range again. [End Page 2]



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Archived 2012
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