Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, January 31, 2014

Berry Lectures at Vanderbilt

Please join us for the first in our 2014 series of Berry Lectures in Public Philosophy on Tuesday, February 11th in Buttrick Hall, Room 101.  The theme for this year’s series is Human Existence: Insights from Philosophy’s History.   The full schedule appears below. 

Our first speaker in the series is Professor Lenn Goodman.  His topic is “Two Ways to do Metaphysics without Really Trying: Aristotle and Avicenna on Being at Large.”  The lecture begins at 7:00pm, and will be preceded by a light reception at 6:30pm.  All are invited. 

Many Thanks,
--Robert Talisse
Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair


The Berry Lectures in Public Philosophy
Human Existence: Insights from Philosophy’s History

Tuesday, February 11
7:00pm, Buttrick Hall, Room 101
Lenn Goodman
Two Ways to do Metaphysics without Really Trying:
Aristotle and Avicenna on Being at Large

Tuesday, February 18
7:00pm, Buttrick Hall, Room 101
Julian Wuerth
What is Enlightenment?
Kant’s Copernican Revolution

Tuesday, February 25
7:00pm, Buttrick Hall, Room 101
David Wood
‘What does not kill me makes me stronger’:
Why we Still Read Kierkegaard and Nietzsche

Thursday, March 13
7:00pm, Wilson Hall, Room 126
José Medina
Love and Other Demons:
Wittgenstein and Skepticism

All Lectures are Free and Open to the Public
Sponsored by the Vanderbilt Philosophy Department with the Generous Support of the Berry Fund

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Group 2

First up we talked about euthanasia.  We talked about how we felt on the issue.  Some people thought that if someone was dying then they should just let it happen naturally; you should make them comfortable, but medicine should not be used to help end the life.  Others thought that if the person was of sound mind, then we should let them make their own decision.
Then we talked about one baby, five parents.  How can this affect the child?  We talked about different scenarios that could come up in this type of issue.  Then our conversation turned to surrogate mothers.  We found a website that talks about the process of being a surrogate mother or egg/sperm donor, and some of the qualifications and compensation of it.  We briefly went over if any of us would be able to do this or take on a baby that was made through these methods.  We also briefly touched on adoption.

Group 1 Class Discussion: Chapter 4

After the Daily Quiz and discussing the Chapter as a class, our group began discussing the issue of organ harvesting after death and what should be done.  Kat had no problem with it, and soon after we transitioned into the issue of cadavers being used. No one had an issue with it or thought it was morally wrong as long as the person opted in. Meredith began a discussion on organ donors by stating that her family advised against being one, but she still supported the prospect. Overall, we all think that once someone has died, they will have no further use for their body, so there's not much of a problem donating it to a valuable purpose.

Next, we transitioned into a discussion on the topic of "medical paternalism", and the notion that doctors automatically jump to throwing prescriptions at patients. We all discussed the prospect of conditions and afflictions being "invented" by physicians, and Evan brought up the point that parents nowadays are stunting their children's creativities by prescribing them medication for perceived afflictions. Finally, we discussed the issue of physicians not spending enough time on patients and the potential ramifications.

Free* food at Happy Hour today!

An important note from Jon Gill, Phil'y Club, president. He writes that he's sick and won't be able to join the festivities today, but urges:
In my absence, I'd say that you should have everyone save their food receipts from tonight's happy hour and let's go ahead and submit those ASAP, so that we may open up the possibility of further "engagement funding."
So that's *free as in reimbursable. Pay & enjoy now, get your rebate later.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Group 2

First off, our group is still nameless so we need to get on that lol.
Today we talked on abit of this and that.  We bounced around a bit, so I will try to touch on what I remember.  First, we talked about the case in Texas dealing with the hospital refusing to cut life support to the pregnant, brain dead woman against her family's will, citing a Texas law as their reasons for their refusal.  Some of us believed that their was some merit in this if they could save the unborn child's life.  Others said it was more a case of this woman is already technically dead and her body should not have been kept alive if there was no hope of recovery.
Next we moved onto what we felt might have some merit as our midterm project (still throwing out ideas though).  We talked about how certain cities, such as New York, have taken a role as "personal health coaches" for the entire population of the city.  Their legislation to restrict smoking and soda have sparked some controversy, and we wanted to know how others felt about your government mandating that you be healthy.  Is that ethical?  How would you feel if you were told you could not live your life how you wanted because your lifestyle was considered unhealthy by the state?

Group 3 Summary CH.3

After getting in our discussion groups, we talked briefly about cultural differences. Is there a possibility that cultural differences would disappear and everyone would have very similar ideals when it comes to culture? this is a question that we discussed, we decided no. the only way that we decided that this would occur is if one group of people with the same ideals teamed up and pretty much killed everyone with different beliefs.
                                 What do you other groups think? do you think later in the future that people will slowly merge to the same traditions and ideals WHEN IT COMES TO CULTURE?

gender stereotypes  were next on our agenda. in which we decided that that it definitely exists. however, personally being a male (a white male at that) i believe it is sometimes difficult to realize these gender bias's if you will. i know another male in my group thought the same way. i don't her name but one girl in our class mentioned not noticing these, if she doesn't notice them i definitely don't think that i will. i know they exist but sometimes its hard to see them.
                            Another thought we pondered on is that as males (our whole group is male) we our raised or at least most of us to protect women and take care of them. example : if there is a room with chairs and i have a seat and there is a female in the room that doesn't i will get up and offer her my seat. now i was raised to do this out of respect, and i know there is a difference between being nice and respectful and gender stereotypes. my question is.....do you think there is any correlation between how men are raised by past generation and...how men have stereotypes of women and not realize it??????? another thought i had was if these stereotypes didn't exists at all then we would be completely equal, which i know is sort of the goal,but.....i don't know sometimes its hard for me to imagine that. i think men are better at certain tasks while women are better at others. i don't necessarily view this as a bad thing either, evolution has made us this way and it was for a reason. why cant we live in a world that embraces these differences and and look at stereotypes as a positive thing instead of a negative.
                  what do you guys think?

                   sorry if this post is hard to follow as i am new at blogging or writing where others can view what i write.

Group 1 Chapter 3 Discussion Summary

Following the quiz, our group touched upon some discussion questions that we had posted. We began by discussion gender stereotypes, and Kat brought to light some previously overlooked biases against women in the field of science and in sex education. We also touched upon the double-standard that it is acceptable for men to say they do not want to have children, but it is frowned upon for women to want to be childless. Dr. Oliver joined our group and remarked that there are still occupations that are very gender exclusive, such as stenography. Other examples of gender stereotypes were mentioned, and we recognized that they were present because they had been internalized into our culture.

Continuing on this gender line of thought, Dr. Oliver asked us what we thought about Nel Noddings' "feminine approach" theory. After some discussion, we concluded that we think both genders can possess "feminine" attributes and thought processes.

We then briefly touched on the origins of empathy and the differences in interactions between friend groups of solely girls and friend groups of solely guys to spot gender behavior differences. We also discussed the new emphasis on caring and empathizing with patients for both male and female physicians.

Next, Logan asked the group where they stood on the spectrum of the religious philosophies presented in the text.  Kat held an affinity for the community-oriented, "Golden Rule" traditions of Buddhism, a quote from Judaism resonated strongly with Logan, and I was very interested in the relaxed, karma-laden philosophies of Hinduism. We concluded with Evan and the rest of the group discussing Christian morals and values.

Daily Quiz

Jan 28

1. Chapter 3 begins by asking if our bioethical perspective ("vision") is skewed by _____... (a) cultural assumptions, (b) gender bias, (c) religious faith, (d) all of the above

2. What's the leading global cause of death among women of reproductive age?

3. (T/F? The "feminist critique" says bioethics has been dominated by culturally masculine thinking.

4. What ethical perspective did Nel Noddings (supported by Carol Gilligan's research) describe as the "feminine approach"?

5. What's a furor therapeuticus? OR True/False. If a chronic patient is not getting any any better, the physician's primary role is to generate furor therapeutics. 

6. Does Campbell consider the outlawing of female genital mutilation culturally insensitive?

An earlier, longer version of this was inadvertently posted while still under construction. Guess I hit "publish" late last night when I meant merely to "schedule" it. Or maybe entered AM instead of PM. Anyway, Kat saw it and busted my chops a bit about its length. Thank you, Kat.

For the record, I was already intending to whittle it down before showing it the light of day. Kat's right, tho, the quiz needs to be aceable. So I've lopped the following (Let's still take note of these important passages.)-

What role do feminist bioethicists see themselves as performing, with respect to the victims of gender discrimination, what perspective do they wish to "re-assert," and what classic (Cartesian) metaphysical/philosophical perspective do they oppose? (p51)

What's allegedly distinctive about "Asian bioethics"? (59)

What do Plato's Euthyphro and the Biblical story of Abraham & Isaac have to do with bioethics? (61-2)

Is Buddhism's greatest bioethical relevance mainly theoretical? (69)

And here are some I just found, too late to include (but take your bases...)-

(FQ) Name two of the four key concepts of feminism discussed in the book.
(Pick any two) Marginalization, Embodiment, Empowerment, and Relational Autonomy.

(FQ) What ancient philosophy is a powerful influence on many parts of Asia, dealing with the practice of ren and sustained by rituals of rites (li)?

(FQ) What three religions discussed in the text stem from the monotheistic faith of the Hebrew patriarch Abraham?
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Monday, January 27, 2014

Group 3

Sorry about the late post. We thought we had decided on who was going to be the author for Thursday's discussion; however, there must have been some miscommunication. I don't remember everything that we discussed but here are some of the highlights:

Soon after reviewing the quiz the first thing we discussed was The Mayor's Dilemma. Each of us stated what we would have done if we were either in the mayor's shoes or the soldier's. We emphasized on the soldier's point of view and how each of us would have felt and handled the situation if we were commanded to execute whomever. We initially thought that we would not kill anybody since it is morally "wrong," but we would still execute the guerrillas or the civilians since a command is a mandatory task. The soldier has already killed the third guerrilla and two girls that helped hide them. So why wouldn't he hesitate to kill the rest? Morals in some cases are developed according to the situation. This led to our next discussion about what we would do when survival is rough.

In our second discussion we asked each other the question, "How would your morals be affected if  survival was a competition, for instance an apocalypse?" It's interesting to see that Mill's Harm Principle applies when one's life is not threatened, but we become animals under cruel circumstances or when fighting for survival. Each of us would do anything to keep ourselves alive and the Harm Principle is usually lost.

I wish I could remember more in detail, but these were the two main discussions in general.

Health & Happiness

Spring 2014
Honors Lecture Series:

Health and Happiness

 Spring 2014 Lecture Series

January 27th Dr. Philip Phillips, Honors CollegeIntroduction

February 3rd Phil Oliver, Philosophy Splendid Health, Penultimate Happiness: A Pragmatic Perspective

February 10th Ronnie Littlejohn, (Philosophy, Belmont University)Daoist Instructions for Making Transcendent Bodies

February 17th Shelley Thomas, Foreign LanguagesYoga and Meditation with an Indian Guru

February 24th Ken MacLeish (Center for Medicine, Health and Society, Vanderbilt University)Beyond Diagnosis: PTSD and the Work of War Making

March 3rdRudy Dunlap, Health and Human PerformanceUrban Agriculture as Civic Leisure: Implications for Health and Happiness


March 17th Fabio Troncarelli (University della Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy)Health and Happiness of the Body and Happiness as Health of the Soul in Classical and Late Antique Thought 

March 24th Yuan-ling Chao, HistoryBody, Health, and Happiness: Classical Medicine in China

March 31st Derek Griffith (Center for Medicine, Health and Society, Vanderbilt University)In the Pursuit of Happiness, What Happens to Men's Health?

April 7th Jeffrey D. Woods (Trust Point Hospital)Collaboration in Allopathic Medicine: Caring for the Whole Person - Mind, Body, and Spriit

April 14th Mary Beth Asbury (Speech and Theatre), Katherine Foss (Journalism), and Kaylene Gebert (Speech and Theatre)Health and Happiness: Reducing Stress

April 21st Laura Clippard (Honors)Applying for Fellowships and Scholarships

April 28thTBAHonors Thesis Presentations

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Life-Support Battle in Texas

The case of the Texas woman, 22 weeks pregnant and being kept on life-support machines at a Forth Worth hospital against her husband's wishes, goes before a judge in North Texas on Friday.

Marlise Munoz has been on respirators and ventilators since she was found unconscious in her home in November, when she was 14 weeks pregnant. Her family says it has medical evidence that she's brain-dead.

But John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth has refused to disconnect Munoz from life-support machines, citing the Texas Advance Directives Act concerning end-of-life care. It includes this provision: "A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient."

...Tom Mayo, a medical ethicist and law professor in Dallas, tells NPR he believes the exclusion "doesn't apply because I don't think the act applies to someone who is dead. This is all assuming now that the husband has it right, and that we'll see confirmation of her brain death as a result of the hearing." Mayo says more than 30 other states also have pregnancy exclusion provisions on the books, but this is the first time he's heard of a hospital insisting on treatment over the objection of a family.

Life-Support Battle Over Pregnant Texas Woman Heads To Court : Shots - Health News : NPR

UPDATEA pregnant, brain-dead woman who has been at the center of a two-month-long ethical and legal battle over whether to remove her from life support was disconnected from the machines on Sunday and her body was released to her husband, lawyers for the family said...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Group 2

Chapter 2 is about moral theories that can be used to evaluate and examine moral and ethical issues.  In our discussion group we immediately went into everyone's views on the mayor's predicament, and most of us had differing opinions.  Some thought that we should adamantly stand against the unmoral command to kill and be defiant against the oppression.  Others thought that the "Greater good" of the group outweighed the few who participated in the violence, also in that same group, people felt they would like more information on the situation.  Did the two guerrilla fighters kill the soldiers in self defense?  Did they seek out the soldiers with intentions to hurt and kill them?  How bad are these labor camps?  Some felt that you should just abstain from the decision altogether.  
Then we went into Genetic modification of children.  A few were against it on the grounds that you shouldn't impose your will and wishes on your unborn child.  Some felt that in some instances it was acceptable, not in attributes like height, hair color, or eye color, but it was ok in places like medical conditions, diseases, or disease predispositions.
Then Dr. Oliver came by and asked us about how we felt in relation to the moral theories.  He asked where we felt we stood; which theory do we feel describes our personal thoughts on the above issues?  He also mentioned the train scenario (Are the lives of the many more valuable than the life of the few?) , and he posed the question, "Is there a difference between killing and letting die?" which we had kind of touched upon throughout our discussion.  We also talked about conflicting values and moral codes.
Lastly we touched on the issue in the book about death row inmates and organs for transplant.  It was an interesting topics that I wish we would have had more time to get into.
We also left with the task of thinking up a group name for ourselves.

Group 1: Chapter 2 Discussion Summary

After taking the Quiz, we began discussing the thought exercise from the book. Kat talked about real life being much harder to predict, and that none us know how we'd actually react when thrust into the situation, which we all agreed with. We then transferred into virtue ethics, and discussed the difficulty in defining virtues. Next, we talked about euthanasia and the lines of whether it's ok or not. We generally agreed that even if someone is living, one must look at the potential quality of their lives in the future.

Our next topic of conversation came from Evan, and we discussed whether telling half truths or withholding information was acceptable. Kat decided that the decision was circumstantial, and then as a group we came to a consensus that it was generally ok, especially in relation to the doctor-patient confidentiality relationship. We then spent some time discussion the topic of abortion and when it would be ok. At the end of our conversation, we drifted back to the mayor dilemma and then finished up discussing some of our conclusions with Dr. Oliver.

Group 2...Sorry This is last Minute

Again, sorry that this is coming just before class.  I completely forgot.  My bad.  We really didn't talk about to much by the way of philosophy, but we talked a lot about the class in general.  The reading for chapter two, which is for next class touches upon some theories and methods of viewing ethical conundrums.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Group 3

During last class not many things were discussed (relating to philosophy). It was more of an outline and elaboration of how a regular class should function. Such information can be found on the SyllabusQuick Start Guide, and Daily Participation Scorecards. The last ten minutes were used to split the class into three groups and assign authors.

The reading assignment for next class introduced us to a few different views on ethics. They include: Consequentialism( Utalitarianism), Deontological theory, Virtue Ethics, Communitarianism, and Libertarianism. Consequentialism is ''the ends justify the means'' theory that can be based on the past events and their consequences. Utalitarianism is one of the branches of consequentialism that states that any action should be based on maximizing happiness and reducing suffering, it was coined by Jeremy Benthem. Deontological theory, Kant's philosophy, states that morality is required when making a particular decision. This theory is divided into hypothetical imperative, one that is conditional and is a mean of achieving a desired end (such as feelings and desires) and categorical imperative, one that is unconditional and overrides our preferences (such as reason and respect for others).The theory states that morality is what good people do. Aristotle's Virtue Ethics states that morality is based on an enduring character of moral agents. It says that people should be eudaimonistic, or having good spirit. This view is considered to be elitistic and very broad, not allowing for isolated moral choices to be followed. Communitarianism says that individuals are servants to the general will and thus are less autonomous. On the opposite end, Liberarianism says that people are free to do as they please as long as no one else is harmed by their decisions.

While explaing all these theories the book kept referring back to the mayor at the square example. In my opinion, he should have killed the two guerrilla fighters not because of the greater good but because they were not civilians - they were fighters (It would be different if the colonel took two civilians and asked mayor to club them as an example to others).The mayor most likely doesn't know of multiple other outcomes of a somewhat similar situations that happened in the past, therefore he could not decide which path would be the correct choice. For me it is better to live under any condition ( as long as I can think and move around) so if a particular civilian did not want to live under tyranny he could try to get himself killed or commit suicide. The soldier's would most likely obey their commanders order. Even if some of them disobey the outcome of the command would be inevitable.  To rely on Kant's categorical imperative and hope that soldier's morality will override the command of the leader would mean that all of the soldiers have to be on the same page as the mayor, believing in the unconditional morality.

Here is a link that I think is really cool. An artist performed an unusual experiment to see what people would do in unusual situations and she took a stab at the question of whether there is a killer in all of us.

Start these off...Group 1

We didn't have much time last class to discuss the dynamics of posting, so I'm assuming that's why we haven't posted anything as of yet. I'm not sure if Dr. Oliver is going to give us a full run for simply being an author (like he has in the past) or if we still have to post FQs/DQs/links as the author to maintain full credit for the day. Either way, I'm still without a book until later this afternoon, so I won't be posting any questions until either tonight or tomorrow (day of class) morning. Even though I can't put any meat and taters information in this post, it's still worthwhile to have a placeholder for our group to comment under.
Last class we briefly went over scorecards, explaining how they work. \

**For those who are still shaky on the concept--post one factual question and one discussion question pertaining to the reading that's due on Thursday (that's chapter two of our first text) in the comments below. Try to find an interesting and/or relevant link as well. Links include anything outside of the text, such as websites, articles, images (yes, even cartoons :D), songs, videos, and even a summary of a conversation you had with someone who may not even be in the class. As long as it's outside of our class readings and is pertinent to the subject at hand, it totally counts! If you have anything you would like to say about the chapter or anything relevant to the class or our discussions, feel free to include it in the comments below as well.**

We also decided that all of us would like to be authors in the off chance that the original three designated couldn't post. Better safe than sorry. I'm not sure if everyone gave their email to Dr. Oliver for an invitation to become an author. If you haven't done that yet, try to do so next class by reminding him (if he isn't already anticipating this need to add more people). Looking forward to seeing you guys on Thursday! Hopefully we can actually talk about the book next time :P

Another note to all fellow classmates: If your designated author hasn't posted anything by the end of the night after a class, go ahead and post for them. It's best to have SOMETHING for them to comment on. Otherwise, everyone's trying to get stuff up last minute and no one can actually prepare for a discussion OR the daily quizzes :)

Monday, January 13, 2014


Let's introduce ourselves, Spring 2014 Bioethics collaborators. This class was originally scheduled to return in '15 but popular demand (from the Biology Dept) expedited us. So, we're premature. Ready or not, here we go!

I invite you all to hit "comment" and reply by posting your own introductions telling us who you are and why you're here, and to ruminate as well in response to these questions:
Do you believe an intelligent and conscious living being (like yourself) bears any particular duties, responsibilities, or ethical obligations towards others, or towards life in general? What particular ethical obligations are incumbent on health care professionals? What connections do you see between healthy, happy, and meaningful lives?
Our first meeting will consist mainly of introductions. We'll not spend much time going over the syllabus or talking course mechanics, there's plenty of time for that later. But I do invite you to peruse the Quick Start Guide, Daily Participation Scorecard, and Syllabus page links on our course blogsite (in the right margin). Let me know what's especially unclear.

I'm Dr. Oliver, aka James P., aka Phil, aka (despite my best efforts to discourage it) "Dr. Phil." I live in Nashville with my wife, younger daughter, two dogs (Angel and Lilli), and a cat named Zeus. Older Daughter is a college freshman a couple hundred miles away.

My office is in James Union Building 307-B. Office hours are MW 1-2,TTh 4-5, & by appointment.. On nice days, office hours will be outdoors (my door will direct you). 

I've been at MTSU for over a decade, teaching philosophy courses on diverse subjects including atheism, childhood, happiness, the environment, the future, and bioethics.

My birthday is Feb.14, we'll observe it on the 13th: bring cake and candy to class that day. Also a cure for aging if you've got it. (Last year someone brought biscuits and jam from the Loveless. That helped.)

My Ph.D. is from Vanderbilt. I'm originally from Missouri, near St. Louis. I'm a Cardinals fan. My undergrad degree is from Mizzou, in Columbia MO. (I wish my schools weren't in the SEC-I don't approve of major collegiate sports culture or of violence in football, but don't get me started.)

My philosophical expertise, such as it is, centers on the American philosophical tradition of William James. Last year a student asked me to respond to a questionnaire. I did, and have continued to reflect on its excellent questions. "It was an honor..."

I post my thoughts regularly to my blogs Up@dawn and Delight Springs, among others, and toTwitter. Follow me if you want to. But of course, as Brian Cohen said, you don't have to follow anyone. (Extra credit if you get that reference... and real extra credit if you realize that my "extra credit" is usually rhetorical.)

Enough about me. Who are you? (Where are you from, where have you been, what do you like, who do you want to become,...?) Why are you here? (On Earth, in Tennessee, at MTSU, in philosophy class)? More specifically: as a bioethics student and a living being, what ethical obligations towards your fellow living beings and the systems that support them do you acknowledge? Do you think our form of life has a future? What are your thoughts on the other questions posed at the beginning of this post?

Hit "comments" below and post your introduction, then read your classmates'... and bear in mind that this is an open site. The world can read it. (The world's probably busy with other stuff, of course.)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Craig Venter

in the spring of 2010, @JCVenter – the “richest and most powerful man in biotechnology,” he’s been called – announced the creation of a new life form.  Synthetic life.  Genetically coded on a computer, and popped to life.  Specifications dropped in by a human hand.  Self-replicating and ready to go.  It was a bombshell in biology circles.  The rest of the world is still taking it onboard.  Now Venter’s talking about it as a challenge to our understanding of life itself.  A boon, he hopes.  And maybe a teleporter, too. On Point:  Craig Venter on the advance of synthetic life. 
We'll soon be reading his Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life. And then, a fictional take on its ethical implications from Richard Powers in Generosity: An Enhancement. Can't wait!