Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Ethical Value of Physician-Assisted Suicide (Summary/Breakdown)

Group Members: Caleb Hough, Gavin Hillsman, Michael Harber, Robby Sabir.

Topic: The Ethical Value of PAS.


Michael Harber - Introduction to PAS (I.E: Background/Historical Information).

Robby Sabir - The Ethical Value of the "Pros" of PAS (I.E: Supporting Information).

Caleb Hough - The Ethical Value of the "Cons" of PAS (I.E: Opposing Information).

Gavin Hillsman - Modern-Day Application and Practices of PAS (I.E: Statistical Information).

*conclusion and introduction to the presentation were a collaborative effort*


We will be presenting the topic of the ethical value of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and what factors must be considered in this process as far as ethics and morality are concerned. Our presentation includes background information about PAS in order to provide the audience with the necessary knowledge prior to discussing other details about this process. Additionally, the generally understood weighting factors (I.E: Pros and Cons) involved with  PAS will be presented to the audience along with the modern day applications and legalities involved with this process.

*presentation includes a discussion topic at the end for the audience to think about*

Discussion Video (Link):

Midterm Project Summary

Hello Class!

My name is Bell Doski and I, along with Kayleah Bradley and Shivan Berwari, will be presenting our midterm project on March 1st. The topic of our report is unethical research done in the past and how to prevent this in the future.

Each one of us will be presenting 2 cases of unethical research and we will close with a discussion on why this happens and how we can prevent further cases from happening. We look forward to sharing with you all on Tuesday!

Some of the cases we will be reporting on are; the Landis Facial Experiement study, the Monster study, and the Little Albert study.

Here is a good article to read on Ethics in Research.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Quiz March 1

Sandel Ch.5, Mastery & Gift

1. What does Sandel think the dissolution of "giftedness" would change about the "moral landscape"? (Name one of the three features it would transform.)

2. As more is subject to choice, less is attributed to what?

3. What's "playing naked"? -"flying blind"?

4. What is the inadvertent result of insurance industry practice that creates a de facto social safety net?

5. Is "changing our nature to fit the world" necessary or desirable, according to Sandel?

6. Who called the new technologies of genetic intervention a "cosmic event"?
Sandel on Philosophy Bites

Another view:
 2011 Nov;28(4):355-368.

Mastery Without Mystery: Why there is no Promethean Sin in Enhancement.


Several authors have suggested that we cannot fully grapple with the ethics of human enhancement unless we address neglected questions about our place in the world, questions that verge on theology but can be pursued independently of religion. A prominent example is Michael Sandel, who argues that the deepest objection to enhancement is that it expresses a Promethean drive to mastery which deprives us of openness to the unbidden and leaves us with nothing to affirm outside our own wills. Sandel's argument against enhancement has been criticized, but his claims about mastery and the unbidden, and their relation to religion, have not yet received sufficient attention. I argue that Sandel misunderstands the notions of mastery and the unbidden and their significance. Once these notions are properly understood, they have surprising implications. It turns out that the value of openness to the unbidden is not just independent of theism, as Sandel claims, but is in fact not even fully compatible with it. But in any case that value cannot support Sandel's objection to enhancement.This is because it is not enhancement but certain forms of opposition to enhancement that are most likely to express a pernicious drive to mastery.
Free PMC Article
Julian Savulescu's powerpoint...

The lure of “integrative medicine”It has been fascinatingly frustrating over the past couple of weeks to see faculty and students at the University of Toronto defending “alternative” and “integrative” and “holistic” medicine with all of their might. They are portraying this entire issue as an “us vs. them” debate, as if anyone opposed to the idea of integrative medicine is also blind to new ideas, opposed to non-prescription treatments, and has no interest in patient satisfaction. Nope, we actually care about all of those things. And we care about the patient’s pocketbook and about the scientific method... (continues)

1. Is "openness to the unbidden" a universally shared attribute of good parents? Are over-controlling or helicoptering parents too preoccupied with avoiding the unbidden?

2. How would you characterize an appropriate level of parental responsibility? (Example: we visited our daughter this past weekend. She complained that the heat in her dorm room has been out during the recent cold spell. Her mother threatened to call the school. Appropriate?)

3. Do you sympathize with athletes who choose not to "play naked" or parents who won't "fly blind"? Do you blame them? Would you behave differently?

4. Do you agree that the good fortune of some implies an obligation to assist the least advantaged members of society? 91

5. Is it disloyal to our predecessors or unfair to our successors, to contemplate changes to our heritable nature? Are human nature and world realities separable or inter-related?

6. Do you see enhancement technology more as "an inadvertent by-product of biomedical progress"  or an expression of Promethean over-reach? Is it inevitable?

  • How advertising promotes expensive drugs and treatments you may not need - nyt
  • The Stress Test-Rivalries, intrigue, and fraud in the world of stem-cell research. NYer
  • Love & Death (letters) - nyt - "...Except for palliative care teams, the health care professionals entrusted to shepherd most of us to our deaths require better training. Poetry and engagement with the humanities not only enhance a doctor’s empathy, but are requisite to all of us living meaningfully..."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”
― Aldous HuxleyBrave New World

Like many others, when I think of eugenics I can't help but think of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. In this dystopian realm of Huxley's making, dehumanization is common practice. People have become products, not necessarily for each other's consumption--though that is certainly at play--but for society. Yet unlike Hitler's Nazi Germany or Orwell's totalitarian government, we observe a society at peace. There is no weeping and gnashing of teeth. The members of this society ubiquitously classify themselves as happy.

How this universal happiness is achieved, though, is relatively simple: drugs, sex, and eugenics.

The people are bred, bottled, and birthed:

"For of course," said Mr. Foster, "in the vast majority of cases, fertility is merely a nuisance. One fertile ovary in twelve hundred— that would really be quite sufficient for our purposes. But we want to have a good choice. And of course one must always have an enormous margin of safety. So we allow as many as thirty per cent of the female embryos to develop normally. The others get a dose of male sex-hormone every twenty-four metres for the rest of the course. Result: they're decanted as freemartins—structurally quite normal (except," he had to admit, "that they do have the slightest tendency to grow beards), but sterile. Guaranteed sterile. Which brings us at last," continued Mr. Foster, "out of the realm of mere slavish imitation of nature into the much more interesting world of human invention."

People are brainwashed into happiness: 

"Alpha children wear grey They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able…" 

And then they aren't people anymore:

"The lower the caste," said Mr. Foster, "the shorter the oxygen." The first organ affected was the brain. After that the skeleton. At seventy per cent of normal oxygen you got dwarfs. At less than seventy eyeless monsters." 

Ultimately, in their search to manufacture happiness, a sense of human-ness is lost. Eugenics and sterilization may free us from the "slavish imitation of nature," but Nature makes room for all manner of human, whereas we are bound to hold to our arbitrary standards. We may gain a "more interesting world," but we lose ourselves and our uniqueness in the process. Worst of all, this fabricated homogeneity becomes normal--we condition ourselves to a hive mindset in the name of peace. But what Huxley demonstrates that it's not peace but compromise. Humans sacrifice their struggles, their ideals, and their identities in the name of peace, but, really, it's mere contentment:

“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” 

Samuel Scheffler, author of Death and the Afterlife, maintains that "an immortal human life" could not be, in actuality, a human life, because death is an integral part of the human identity. In the same way, the ugliness of our nature and bitterness of our struggles are the methods by which we undergo the human condition. When we remove them, we remove the humanity as well. 

Huxley's world had a commonality in its reaction to "the savage" John: an inability to empathize. Make the whole world stable and content, deprive everyone of pain, and they have no context with which to aid the outcast. And there will always be outcasts. 

This is not to say that this is the definite trajectory of human discovery. Nor are our current biological manipulations out to rob us of our goodness. But Huxley gave us Brave New World as a warning. That's why we look through John's eyes and see the horror of illusory happiness. We see ourselves as not ourselves and that frightens us while it still can. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder to tread carefully and remember what is common to the human identity, what is sacred, what we cannot bear to sacrifice.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mid term presentation summary

Hey bioethics I along with Phillip Shackelford and Darcy Tabotabo will be presenting on genetic engineering. There are three divisions we will be discussing. I will discuss the genetic engineering of animals; Phillip will talk about genetic engineering of humans; and Darcy will examine genetic engineering in agriculture. Here are a few links relevant to our presentation

Monday, February 22, 2016

Quiz Feb23

Eugenics old & new, ch4

1. The term "eugenics" means what? OR, who coined it in 1883?
Image result for francis galton

2. Who was the pioneering feminist who advocated "more children from the fit..."?

3. What "aspect of the new Germany" did the LA Times endorse in 1935?

4. What was Singapore's "free market twist" on eugenics in the '80s?

5. What famous biologist favors eugenics and calls stupid a disease?

6. What are the Repository for Germinal Choice and California Cryobank?

BONUS: Name a political or legal theorist who defended a liberal version of eugenics? Which libertarian proposed a "genetic supermarket"?

BONUS 2: What German philosopher asserted a connection between life's contingent beginning and personal freedom?

"3-Parent Babies"-The British Parliament can be an archaic, backward-looking institution, wedded to tradition, and not known for taking a revolutionary stance. Yet its members have just made a groundbreaking decision, one that no other legislature has so far been willing to contemplate.

They approved legislation that makes Britain the first country to allow the creation of what many call “three-parent babies.” Supporters say the procedure will enable women to avoid passing on certain severe and even deadly genetically inherited diseases. But many regard the new law as an unwise, even immoral, move — the first step toward the creation of “designer babies.” Some even see it as a new experiment in eugenics.

“Three-parent babies” is a sensationalized term to describe a special form of in vitro fertilization, or I.V.F., that is better labeled “mitochondrial transfer.” (nyt, continues)


1. What is the correct basis of a fortuitous birth, if not simply a superior genomic profile and "an improved stock'? Is it a reasonable aim, to pre-select for personal health but not for social dominance?

2. "We have no business to permit perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type," said TR. Is it possible to enact this intention in public policy without violating human rights?

3. Why were Americans so naive about Hitler in in the 1930s? Are we wiser today?

4. Is it "coercive" to pay people not to breed?

5. Is education an adequate cure for genetically-rooted stupidity?

6. Do you agree with Sandel that there's no moral difference between eugenics or market-driven design? 75
A semi-serious followup to our interesting discussion last time of drugs, mountains, peak experiences etc. - Auden's drugs... James on the subjective effects of nitrous oxide... The Nitrous Oxide Philosopher... The Literature of Laughing Gas

And a public service announcement from the School of Life-

"...we don't have a correct sense of what a drug is and what the drugs might be that we in particular truly need. Essentially a drug is a thing, anything that alters your mood acting via either the body or the senses to make an impact upon the mind..." So that includes pomegranate juice, emmentaler cheese, the music of Mozart...

Day Tripper. In the circles where LSD eventually thrived, the moment of its discovery was more cherished than even the famous intersection of a fine English apple with Isaac Newton’s inquiring mind, the comic cosmic instant that gave us gravity. According to legend, Dr. Albert Hofmann, a research chemist at the Sandoz pharmaceutical company, fell from his bicycle in April 1943 on his way home through the streets of Basel, Switzerland, after accidently dosing himself with LSD at the laboratory. The story presented another example of enlightenment as trickster. As a narrative it was very fondly regarded because so many of us imagined a clueless botanist pedaling over the cobblestones with the clockwork Helvetian order dissolving under him.

At Sandoz, Hofmann specialized in the investigation of naturally occurring compounds that might make useful medicines. Among these was a rye fungus called ergot, known principally as the cause of a grim disease called St. Anthony’s Fire, which resulted in gangrene andconvulsions. Ergot had one positive effect: in appropriate doses it facilitated childbirth. Hofmann set out to find whether there might be further therapeutic applications for ergot derivatives. Indeed, he discovered some for Sandoz, including Hydergine, a medication that, among other things, enhances memory function in the elderly. Most famously, of course, Hofmann’s ergot experiments synthesized D-lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate, LSD. On April 16, 1943, he apparently absorbed a minuscule amount of the lysergic acid he was synthesizing through his fingertips. He went home (he doesn’t say how) and subsequently submitted a report to Sandoz. This reads in part:Photo

Drug Test Hofmann, right, cultivates mushrooms.
“At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicatedlike condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination.”

A few days later at work, Hofmann decided to adopt the Romantic methods of Stevenson’s celebrated Dr. Jekyll. His experimental notes commence: ‘4/19/43 16:20 0.5 cc of 1/2 promil aqueous solution of diethylamide tartrate orally = .25 mg tartrate.” By 1700 hours he was reporting other symptoms along with a “desire to laugh.”

The laughter was Mr. Hyde’s, not Dr. Jekyll’s, because for most of this occasion Hofmann was in the grip of what less cultivated experimenters would later call a bummer.

“A demon had invaded me, had taken possession of my body, mind and soul. . . . It was the demon that scornfully triumphed over my will.”

Hofmann did make the journey home by bicycle, with the help of an assistant. Contrary to legend, there is no record of his falling. As the hours of Hofmann’s investigation passed, he felt progressively better. In the morning “everything glistened and sparkled.”

CBS Sunday Morning (@CBSSunday)
Dying wish: Advocates argue for and against the right to physician-assisted death cbsn.ws/1WANJxk pic.twitter.com/E0wbIjOfAj

Bioethics Centre (@BioethicsCentre)
A Tool to Help Address Key Ethical Issues in Research [Journal of Medical Ethics blog]blogs.bmj.com/medical-ethics…
Should you edit your children’s genes?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Study Guide for Thursday's Exam

Feb. 18/16 Case Against Perfection CH-3

1. Sandel's deepest moral objection to enhancement is its alleged disfigurement of what relation?

2. Why is it a mistake to think of health in instrumental terms?

3. Designing parents are more likely to do what, or to neglect what parental duty?

4. Does Sandel consider genetic engineering similar in spirit to expensive private schools & tutors, piano lessons, SAT prep, etc.?

5. "Parents of college students are out of control." 54 How so?

6. How do Ritalin, Adderall etc differ from recreational drugs of the past?

Feb. 16/16 Case Against Perfection CH-2

1. As athletic enhancement increases, what fades?

2. Does Sandel think the main problem with enhancement is that it undermines effort and erodes human agency?

3. What do genetically altered athletes corrupt?

4. Sandel thinks Lasik surgery to correct normal vision would be an acceptable enhancement for a golfer under what condition?

5. Does Sandel allege an ethical problem with mega-calorie diets?

6. What is "far-fetched" about the view that the rules of a game are arbitrary?

Feb. 11/16 Case Against Perfection CH-1

1. "We do not view what we did as very different from what many straight couples do..." What did they do?

2. How much did Genetic Savings & Clone plan to charge for cloned canines?

3. According to what objection is genetic engineering objectionable because "designer children" are not fully free? OR, Why does Sandel not find this objection persuasive?

4. What questions do we need to confront, to grapple with the ethics of enhancement?

5. (T/F) Sandel says it may soon be possible to take a drug that prevents horrific events from being deeply registered in memory.

6. What does Sandel mean by a" hormonal arms race" with respect to height?

BONUS: Michael Sandel served on what high-profile council, OR teaches a hugely popular MOOC course at Harvard on what subject?

Feb. 9/16 Bioethics: The Basics CH-6

    1. What are the two major spheres of justice discussed by Campbell? 
    2. (T/F) Vaccination/immunization and restricted mobility are two of the measures used by preventive medicine to counter the spread of disease. 
    3. Another name for the micro-allocation of health care, concerned with prioritizing access to given treatments, is what? (HINT: This was hotly debated and widely misrepresented ("death panels" etc.) in the early months of the Obama administration.)   
    4. What "perverse incentive" to health care practitioners and institutions do reimbursement systems foster, as illustrated by excessive use of MRIs?

    5. How are Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) supposed to address and solve the problem of who should receive (for instance) a transplant?   
    6. Who propounded a theory of justice that invokes a "veil of ignorance"?   
    BONUS 1: What is the inverse care law?   
    BONUS 2: What is meant by the term "heartsick patients"? 
Feb. 4/16 Bioethics: The Basics CH-5

1. Name one of the basic requirements agreed upon by all codes devised to protect individuals from malicious research.

2. What decree states that consent must be gained in all experimentation with human beings?

3. Name one of four areas of research discussed in the book.

4. Which famous contemporary philosopher coined the term speciesism?

5. Name one of four R's used in international legislation pertaining to animal rights in research?

6. What is the term for altering the numbers in a calculation to make the hypothesis more convincing, with no justification form the research findings for such members?

BONUS: What is the "10/90 Gap"?

Feb. 2/16 Bioethics: The Basics CH-4

1. (T/F) Dignity, respect, and confidentiality are among the aspects of the clinical relationship which emphasize the importance of trust. 

2. What (according to most recognized oaths and conventions) must always be the deciding factor guiding professional decisions? 

3. The idea that the doctor always knows best is called what? 

4. Is a diagnosis of mental illness grounds for establishing a patient's lack of capacity to render competent consent to treatment? 

5. What general principle allows breach of confidentiality? 

6. What term expresses the central ethical concern about "designer babies"? What poet implicitly expressed it?

Jan. 28/16 Bioethics: The Basics CH-3

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?

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


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?

What's allegedly distinctive about "Asian bioethics"?

Jan. 26/16 Bioethics: The Basics CH-2

1. (T/F) In the Mayor's Dilemma, one of the possible actions considered is to set an example of defiance.

2. Which theory has been dominant in bioethics and often used by many health professionals?

3. In deontological theory, what is the difference between hypothetical and categorical imperatives?

4. What ethical principle (and whose), 
in the name of rational consistency, absolute dutifulness, and mutual respect, "requires unconditional obedience and overrides our preferences and desires" with respect to things like lying, for example?

5.  What would Kant say about Tuskegee, or about the murderer "at our door"?

6. What more do we want from a moral theory than Kant gives us?

7. What is the distinctive question in virtue ethics?

8. What Greek philosopher was one of the earliest exponents of virtue ethics?

9. Paraphrase the Harm Principle. Who was its author?

10. Name one of the Four Principles in Beauchamp and Childress's theories on bio
medical ethics?

Jan. 21/16 Bioethics: The Basics CH-1

1.(T/F) Campbell's examples of bioethical questions include whether health care professionals must meet higher standards than businesspeople, the ethics of longevity via pharmacology, designer babies, human/animal hybrids, state paternalism, euthanasia, and environmental ethics.

2. Bioethics just means _______.

3. The _________ required that 'The health of my patient must be my first consideration.' (Hippocratic Oath, Geneva Code, British Medical Association, International Association of Bioethics)

4. What 40-year U.S. study denied information and treatment to its subjects?

5. What did Ivan Ilich warn about in Medical Nemesis?

6. Bioethics has expanded its focus from an originally narrower interest in what relationship?

  • Bioethics has broken free of what mentality?
  • (T/F) Campbell thinks caveat emptor is a good principle for governing the contractual clinical encounter between doctor and patient. 
  • Do descriptive claims settle evaluative issues?
  • Name a bioethical website Campbell recommends.

Study Guide

If any of you newly-minted authors would care to copy-and-paste all the quizzes into a new post, to create a handy study guide for Thursday's exam, it'll be worth two additional runs to you. jpo

Friday, February 19, 2016

Mastery and Gift

In reading this chapter, I had to disagree with the author in some respects. "In a social world that prizes mastery and control, parenthood is a school for humility." This comment resonated with me, it is incredibly true. I had two beautiful sons and each was incredibly unique, I had no choice in who or what they would be once born. I found deep humility in lessons that I learned from them as they grew, because of who they were and found great truths in their simple comments at times.

My youngest son was born with autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and a host of other issues. I will never forget one particular day, after a huge fight with his school in grade school after he had been horribly picked on by a staff member. I got him home and I closed the blinds, I was enraged and so blind with fear...unconsciously, I was trying to protect him from everything outside of our home. He took me hand and opened the blinds, smiling up at me and said, "Don't worry, mommy, they are my friends. They didn't mean it. Look! The sun is shining." That moment changed me forever. My sons are very different human beings than I am and their uniqueness is a gift that I cherish and learn from.

It is the author's assertion that who we are and what we are capable of are gifts and should remain as such, that the social basis of humility would be diminished by genetic self improvement, that I disagree with. The son I mentioned above, was diagnosed in Grade 2. The official diagnosis was PDD NOS, he was pretty atypical. He couldn't read by grade 2, was in a special class, couldn't spend a whole day in school, had no social skills and couldn't stay still or look you in the eye. Outbursts were common. Even eating was problematic, for many years. He was good at math, that was his gift.

I did not give him genetic enhancements, there were none available to me, but I did do something very similar. Unwilling to accept that what he was born with would define his life, I devoted over 10 years solely to him and his brother. I sought out doctors, specialists, drugs, special teachers, tutors, and therapists. If you can name a therapist for these cases, I found one. It was hard, it took an army of devoted professionals and a slew of drugs, plus long days on my part but over time...we figured out how he learned. We changed his environment and then once he was comfortable with it, taught him how to change how he thought and learned ever so slightly so that he could succeed. And he did. He learned to read, he made friends, he got into regular classes and right now..he is finishing his grade 12 year with better grades than most. You'd never know it was the same boy, you'd never know he was disabled.

Did all of these drugs, specialists, teachers and devoted hours change him drastically? Yes. Did it change his natural gifts? Definitely. Did it change his abilities and capabilities? Entirely. It really gave him a huge advantage over others with his diagnosis as well. But, did it make me any less appreciative of his natural gifts or diminish my humility? Not in the least. If anything, I learned an even greater sense of humility. I provided the means by which he could choose to advance his life, but he took it. He worked for it. I do not think I'd feel different if I'd had something implanted into him that helped him overcome obstacles. Let me explain.

My older son was born brilliant beyond words. I'm somehow blessed with a pair of smarty pants. He had nothing to overcome. I was home and never left him out, he was my pride and joy, my best friend. I provided him the same number of opportunities, but in his senior year...he decided that he did not need them. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Control is an illusion. He's a great boy and working hard now, but he set himself back. What I'm saying is, you can genetically enhance or cybernetically enhance a person out the ying yang...what you cannot do is make them use them effectively. The gifted are still gifted beyond mere enhancements, they will still make foolish mistakes and get great ideas in their own time.

We should seek to improve ourselves as a species in any way we possibly can. There are gifts and also weights handed us by nature and by life as we grow...we learn humility not from accepting our fates, but from experiencing life and from striving to achieve. Acceptance goes too often, hand in hand, with depression and giving up. We learn great joy in our achievements, sadness in our failures and nothing will take that from us but us.

We do not owe the less fortunate because we won some genetic lottery. I have watched brilliant people waste their lives, great athletes walk away from sports entirely and party instead...the genetic lottery counts for little. I do not believe that this thinking, this winning of some natural lottery, saves us from believing that the rich are rich because they deserve to be. I find that thought ludicrous. Rich people indeed won a form of lottery if they were born to a rich family, but not one I'd particularly like to win. I'd rather get rich on my own, doing what I love, than be raised as a sort of prodigy and grow up in some forced little box to be whatever "fits in" to the family name. I almost pity those born into wealth with names to uphold, I am much luckier to be born free of such bonds. What about those rich who earned their wealth? They certainly deserve it and not due to some unnatural being or some lucky draw. Some rich are rich because they deserve to be and some are not. I do not have to suffer with what I've been handed naturally to see that or to appreciate it. I think it's best perhaps, to simply state, some people are jerks and will judge others regardless of circumstances and how natural we remain has nothing to do with that. Some of us are empathetic, some of us are hard but fair, while others are fence-riders or outright cruel. Very little of that has to with your natural genetics so much as it has to do with environment, learned response, and personality created by experience. Genetic enhancements change none of that unless you actually set out to do just that.

An interesting video on nature vs. nurture (genetics)

And another!

Human Augmentation

Genetic Engineering is not a "Bad Word" - A few thoughts on modern eugenics

Sir Francis Galton stated “The improvement of our stock seems to me one of the highest objects that we can reasonably attempt”. When we hear statements like this, we automatically recoil, but why? We have associated eugenics with genetic engineering and with horrors of the past, times when it was used for terrible purposes and through terrible means. I should like to think that an educated mind might be able to step back from that initial reaction and give it some very real thought. Many things that make us recoil in horror with bad memories aren’t really awful at all, they were just used in terrible ways by terrible people. Certainly, guns and war machines have been used in terrible atrocities, as have technological advances and the words of many philosophers, most often after being twisted far from their meaning... Yet, we do not stop making war machines or guns and we do not stifle philosophers. So, why then, do we immediately run in fear of improving upon ourselves?
Eugenics meant “well born”. While I do not agree with how eugenics was used in the past, genetic engineering does not mean born of a certain color or of a certain heritage, it has nothing to do with the color of your hair and eyes. These are of course all traits that you could use genetic engineering to select for, but there are far more important areas one could strive for. You, as a student, fall asleep studying and stressing, wake after few hours of sleep and race to your class or job. You are tired, you do not get to eat well all of the time and you are most certainly short on rest. Couldn’t you use a hardier immune system, perhaps a greater memory, or a higher stamina? Surely, you’ve met someone, at least once in your life, and thought, “I wish they were intelligent enough to understand what I’m trying to get across here”.
Every day, we seek to improve upon ourselves with exercise, diet, make-up, creams, lotions, pills, vitamins, medicines, and a host of other products designed to help us achieve some goal. We’ll honestly try just about anything, including in some cases, surgery. So, what is it about genetic engineering that so frightens us? Perhaps, we fear losing our freedom to think and to be who we are, but in truth we should fear that from the host of products we use regularly. After all, we are atoms and molecules held together by in large part, hydrogen bonds. We can be broken apart by a mere fever, but we don’t fear taking concoctions made of plants and herbs, that occur nowhere in nature and are very difficult for our body to even begin to break down. I wonder what it is that makes chemists so very trustworthy and if they might be willing to share their secret with geneticists for the good of humanity. Let’s be honest, genetic engineering has a much higher chance of successfully helping you to achieve your personal goals than the pills and mixes you buy at ridiculous prices in your local store.
You might object on a religious level, stating that we were all created by a great being and therefore, should not dare to consider changing what he created. But, if you brought that argument to my door, I would have to take you seriously and take you from your home, out to the wilderness. You could have no electronics or manufactured food, no technology, and would most certainly be forced to live off of the land. Unfortunately, we’d need a geneticist as well, as you have changed unnaturally via evolution in response to the unnatural changes that man has made to his environment. In other words, you have already been changed irrevocably by far more than just nature and there is nothing you can do about it, so what is the use in standing there denying anyone else the use of this technological advance out of fear that it might change us?

More likely, we return to the objection that the base idea of it was used by the Nazis in Germany and in many countries in fact, to try to purify races or groups of peoples and I assure you, I object to that as well. However, that fact in itself does not make it evil or bad. Anything can be used for ill, I could use an eraser to beat you with, but without erasers, our assignments would be an awful mess. It is time that we stopped cowering like children in fear of the past and instead, move forward as adults with open eyes. We must be aware of the past, lest we repeat it, but we cannot allow it to stop us from moving forward. Fear is paralyzing. Sperm donors already exist, women and couples choose the traits they hope their child might gain. The truth is, so long as it is available to all of us, just as surgeries and pills are, we have little to fear in our government regulated country. Those who work to afford it and want it will get it and those who do not want it can avoid it, until they unintentionally breed with a modified person. But then, that is considered natural in this mixed up world. It’s ok, so long as you didn’t actually agree to actively take part in it upfront and can benefit from it down the road. That seems to be the general consensus anyway. If it turns out poorly, you took no part in it, if it turns out well, you can benefit later. It is the safest choice, but perhaps, safe is no longer what we need when it comes to deciding what is best for our future as a whole. Genetic engineering is not without risk, but it can feed all the hungry in the world, help reduce illness, improve our quality of life and longevity, improve our world as a whole with more intelligent and more vital beings, and so much more. The potential for good extends so much farther than any of us can even realize right now, and if we need to discuss and put controls in place, I say that it is the generation reading this that should do just that. Just, don’t stop at merely discussing it. I do hope you get the ball rolling, per say, before I’m too old and dusty to enjoy any of it. If you do object, at least perhaps, I made you think on it and Socrates would be pleased with that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Quiz Feb.18

The Case Against Perfection ch3-Designer Children, Designing Parents

1. Sandel's deepest moral objection to enhancement is its alleged disfigurement of what relation?

2. Why is it a mistake to think of health in instrumental terms?

3. Designing parents are more likely to do what, or to neglect what parental duty?

4. Does Sandel consider genetic engineering similar in spirit to expensive private schools & tutors, piano lessons, SAT prep, etc.?

5. "Parents of college students are out of control." 54 How so?

6. How do Ritalin, Adderall etc differ from recreational drugs of the past?

1. What are your concerns about parenting, and meeting your parental obligations?

2. "No one aspires to be a virtuoso at health." 48 True? What does this mean?

3. Is enhancement a reflection of conditional (not unconditional) parental love, which on some accounts is not love at all? (See Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no; it is an ever-fixed mark etc.

4. Do you consider genetic engineering similar in spirit to expensive private schools & tutors, piano lessons, SAT prep, etc.?

5. Do you know any "out of control" hyperparents? If so, what's been the impact on their children and their relationship?

6. Do you know anyone who was happily enhanced by Ritalin (et al)? What would they say about the "giftedness" of life, pre-diagnosis?

Oliver Sacks on knowing he is dying; "I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet…" nytimes.com/2015/02/19/opi…

Oxford Academic (@OUPAcademic)
Why are some medical residency programs better than others? oxford.ly/1FuZoc6 by @WUSTL prof Kenneth Ludmerer
npr Measles epidemic of '91, & compulsory vaccination...
Choice.Reviews (@Choice_Reviews)
Review of the Day: Death Before Dying: History, Medicine, and Brain Death ow.ly/IputGow.ly/i/8uMEr
National Geographic (@NatGeo)
Pro-vaccine but afraid to vaccinate: One family shares doubts on.natgeo.com/1ANxMvW

Doctors Strive to Do Less Harm by Inattentive Care

Inattentive medical care is now seen as a real harm. To remedy the situation, many hospitals and doctors are surveying those in their care.

Bioethics "influencers" worth following...

Health experts question lack of crackdown on "homeopathic vaccines"...

Fatal accidents as global health crisis

Emma Morano of Italy, who has survived two world wars, says her elixir for longevity consists of eating three raw eggs a day and being single.

CBS Sunday Morning (@CBSSunday)
Dying wish: Advocates argue for and against the right to physician-assisted death cbsn.ws/1WANJxk pic.twitter.com/E0wbIjOfAj
A semi-serious follow-up to Thursday's interesting discussion of drugs, mountains, "peak experiences"...
The poet W.H. Auden’s writing habits were simple: he woke up, had strong coffee and toast for breakfast, smoked cigarettes while completing the New York Times crossword puzzle and reading the obituaries, and then got to work... He "enjoyed the freedoms of American life, especially during the 1960s, when he experimented with drugs. He tried LSD once and said, “Nothing much happened, but I did get the distinct impression that some birds were trying to communicate with me.” http://writersalmanac.org/
Sounds like coffee & nicotine were his real drugs of choice.