Abímbọ́lá, Kọ́lá, and . Culture and the Principles of Biomedical Ethics

2013, Journal of Commercial Biotechnology, 19 (3): 31-39.

Abstract: This paper examines the roles of culture in the principles of biomedical ethics. Drawing on examples from African, Navajo and Western cultures, the paper maintains that various elements of culture are indispensable to the application of the principles of biomedical ethics.

Comment: This text presents a clear introduction to questions about the application of biomedical ethical principles outside of Western medical contexts. It contains a good overview of the Western interpretation and application of autonomy, as well as other, culturally specific, interpretations of autonomy in medical contexts. This makes it useful as a text to introduce students to the way in which conflicts occur over the application of medical ethical principles in context prior to looking at specific cases (such as Jehovah's Witnesses refusal to accept blood transfusions or the well known case of the Hmong medical culture).

Adams, Carol, and . The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory

2000, New York City: Continuum.

Back Matter: The Sexual Politics of Meat argues that what, or more precisely who, we eat is determined by the patriarchal politics of our culture, and that the meanings attached to meat eating are often clustered around virility. We live in a world in which men still have considerable power over women, both in public and in private. Carol Adams argues that gender politics is inextricably related to how we view animals, especially animals who are consumed. Further, she argues that vegetarianism and fighting for animal rights fit perfectly alongside working to improve the lives of disenfranchised and suffering people, under the wide umbrella of compassionate activism.

Comment: This is a clear and easily accessible introductory text on the relationship of feminism to vegetarianism. The text is compelling and interesting, making a chapter or two excellent for an introductory course that concerns feminism, gender politics, other animals, or vegetarianism. The text in its entirety would be excellent in an upper division course concerning ecofeminism.

Allen, Anita, and . 22 Atmospherics: Abortion Law and Philosophy

2004, In Francis J. Mootz (ed.), On Philosophy in American Law. Cambridge University Press 184

Abstract: In 1934, Karl N. Llewellyn published a lively essay trumpeting the dawn of legal realism, “On Philosophy in American Law.” The charm of his defective little piece is its style and audacity. A philosopher might be seduced into reading Llewellyn’s essay by its title; but one soon learns that by “philosophy” Llewellyn only meant “atmosphere”. His concerns were the “general approaches” taken by practitioners, who may not even be aware of having general approaches. Llewellyn paired an anemic concept of philosophy with a pumped-up conception of law. Llewellyn’s “law” included anything that reflects the “ways of the law guild at large” – judges, legislators, regulators, and enforcers. Llewellyn argued that the legal philosophies implicit in American legal practice had been natural law, positivism and realism, each adopted in response to felt needs of a time. We must reckon with many other implicit “philosophies” to understand the workings of the law guild, not the least of which has been racism. Others, maternalism and paternalism, my foci here, persist in American law, despite women’s progress toward equality. Both maternalism and paternalism were strikingly present in a recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, Gonzales v. Carhart, upholding the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

Comment: This article offers a good way to relate practical legal problems with philosophical issues, giving the students a very direct way to see the relevance of ethics. It can inspire discussions on paternalism and its relations with global justice. Note that the article does not define the following terms which are important to understand the material: Natural law, Positivism, Realism, Atmosphere/atmospherics, Paternalism, Maternalism. Due to its focus on legal issues, the text can be better suited as further reading, or as a core reading in classes focused on applied ethics and law (following Diversifying Syllabi).

Allen, Anita L., and . Mental Disorders and the “System of Judgmental Responsibility”

2010, Boston University Law Review 90: 621-640.

Diversifying SyllabiThesis: Those affected by mental disorders whose actions are episodically influenced by their disorder are often overlooked by philosophers of moral and ethical responsibility. Allen gives us reasons for thinking it is inappropriate to either:

a) “summarily exclude people with mental problems out of the universe of moral agents, reducing them to the status of rocks, trees, animals, and infants”
b) “include the group on the false assumption that their moral lives are precisely like the paradigmatic moral lives of the epistemically-sound and well-regulated people never personally touched by a mental condition”

We must explore a revised approach to moral and ethical responsibility and obligation for this group.

Comment: This text is useful in teaching in two main contexts: (1) in discussing ethical issues related to mental disorders; and (2) to provide a challenging case in classes on blame and responsibility. The text can be also used in the context of the free will and determinism debate, and as a further reading in classes on moral agency.

Annas, Julia, and . Applying Virtue to Ethics

2015, Journal of Applied Philosophy 32(1): 1-14.

Abstract: Virtue ethics is sometimes taken to be incapable of providing guidance for an individual’s actions, as some other ethical theories do. I show how virtue ethics does provide guidance for action, and also meet the objection that, while it may account for what we ought to do, it cannot account for the force of duty and obligation.

Comment: This article presents a fairly detailed proposal of how virtue ethics could be implemented practically as a means of action-guidance. It would be useful as part of an examination of how virtue ethics could work in the real world beyond its abstract principles. It requires the context of awareness of virtue ethics to be properly understood, but any student who has received an introduction to the central concepts of virtue ethics should be able to understand it, including undergraduates.

Baier, Annette, and . Reflections on How We Live

2010, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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.

Barclay, Linda, and . Genetic Engineering and Autonomous Agency

2003, Journal of applied philosophy 20(3): 223–236.

Abstract: In this paper I argue that the genetic manipulation of sexual orientation at the embryo stage could have a detrimental effect on the subsequent person’s later capacity for autonomous agency. By focussing on an example of sexist oppression I show that the norms and expectations expressed with this type of genetic manipulation can threaten the development of autonomous agency and the kind of social environment that makes its exercise likely.

Comment: Useful mainly in the context of (the limitations of) reproductive rights and as a further reading on the ethics of genetic engineering and human enhancement.

Barnes, Elizabeth, and . Valuing Disability, Causing Disability

2014, Ethics, 125 (1): 88-113.

Abstract: Disability rights activists often claim that disability is not – by itself – something that makes disabled people worse off. A popular objection to such a view of disability is this: were it correct, it would make it permissible to cause disability and impermissible to cause nondisability (or impermissible to ‘cure’ disability, to use the value-laden term). The aim of this article is to show that these twin objections don’t succeed.

Comment: This text intervenes in the debate over whether disability, itself, makes someone worse off (the mere-disability/bad-disability debate). It could serve as a clear introduction to the sorts of arguments that support the view that disability is a bad-making feature of someone's life, and contains easily understood counter-examples to that view. It has a place in a course covering disability, impairment, bioethics, autonomy, and social minorities.

Baron, Marcia, and . A Kantian Take on the Supererogatory

2016, Journal of Applied Philosophy 33 (4):347-362

Abstract: This article presents a Kantian alternative to the mainstream approach in ethics concerning the phenomena that are widely thought to require a category of the supererogatory. My view is that the phenomena do not require this category of imperfect duties. Elsewhere I have written on Kant on this topic; here I shift my focus away from interpretive issues and consider the pros and cons of the Kantian approach. What background assumptions would lean one to favour the Kantian approach and what sorts would lean one to favour the mainstream approach? I also consider the possibility that in institutional contexts, there is a need for the category of the supererogatory. Here, it seems, we do need to know what we really have to do and what is beyond the call of duty; in this context, however, duty is not the Kantian moral notion, but rather is pegged to particular roles, or to the needs of the institution or group or club of which one is a member. But even here, I argue, the notion of the supererogatory is not crucial.

Comment: Provocactive paper that challenges the need for a special category of supererogatory actions. Would make a good specialised reading on this topic, or a good further reading for a module addressing Kantian moral theory or moral obligation more generally.

Battaly, Heather, and . Developing virtue and rehabilitating vice:Worries about self-cultivation and self-reform

2016, Journal of Moral Education, 45(2): 207-222.

Abstract: Aristotelian virtue theorists have emphasized the role of the self in developing virtue and in rehabilitating vice. But this article argues that, as Aristotelians, we have placed too much emphasis on self-cultivation and self-reform. Self-cultivation is not required for developing virtue or vice. Nor will sophia-inspired self-reform jumpstart change in the vicious person. In each case, the external environment has an important role to play. One can unwittingly acquire virtues or vices from one’s environment. Likewise, a well-designed environment may be the key ingredient for jumpstarting change in the vicious person. Self-cultivation and late-stage self-reform are not ruled out, but the role of the self in character development and rehabilitation is not as exalted as we might have thought.

Comment: This is an interesting article offering a new view on promoting virtue and avoiding vice. Battaly believes that self-cultivation is not a necessary component of virtue. While her view is against most of virtue theories offered in the past, it is well founded and likely to provoke controversy in class.