Up@dawn 2.0

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..."


  1. Hey here is a clip from Gurren Lagann that, to me, seemed to resonate with this chapter

  2. Quiz question:
    What are the two objections to Sandel's argument?

    1. 1) Some may complain that it is overly religious.

      2) Others may object that it is unpersuasive in consequentialist terms.

  3. DQ: 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?)
    Answer: When it comes to the topic of parental responsibility, I think back to the four primary parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglecting. In a recent discussion post, I mentioned that I felt it was necessary for parents to avoid utilizing any style solely—and I still support my statement. However, in the example provided in this discussion question, I feel that depending on how extreme the situation that occurred was, gives the parents the full right of complaining to the school. In a situation like the one mentioned, we must think critically about all the possible outcomes that may have arose if the parents were neglectful: sickness that could have negatively affected her school performance, a school administration that may not have cared about the daughter’s well-being, among others. In this example, I feel that this was an appropriate level of parental responsibility.

  4. Quiz Question: What does Sandel mention to be, “One of the blessings of seeing ourselves as creatures of nature, God, or fortune?” And what reason does he give for trying to become masters? (pg. 87)

  5. Here's a article that I found on John Harris and Julian Savulescu, leading figures in the "new" eugenics, on the topic of human enhancement. I feel that their argument is relevant to today's topic and contributes much to the discussion:


  6. Quiz Question:
    Those who care more about gaining a competitive edge for their children or themselves may decide what?
    (pp. 95)

  7. This is a link I found about genetic testing and health insurance discrimination. Insurance companies have found a loop hole in the law that restricts them from genetically testing their clients. This loop hole also seems very illegal to me due to HIPA. If a patient needs to be genetically tested for medical reasons the insurance companies are somehow getting their hand on the results and punishing the client for the results of the test.


  8. Discussion Question:

    If giftedness disappeared how would you feel? If every one was normal in having the innate ability to do something well what would we strive for? Would we still have goals and accomplishments? Would life become mundane because everyone performs an ability the same way?

  9. Quiz Question:

    What does Sandel believe bioengineering is responsible for deadening the impulse of?

    (pp. 96-97)

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

    I see enhancement technology to be more of an inadvertent result of biomedical advances. My reasoning behind this would be due to the fact that many biomedical improvements are a direct result of particular circumstances which are then further driven by other discoveries. Having said that, I definitely believe that this progress is inevitable as new advances and research are conducted within the field on a consistent basis.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. DQ: 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?

    I personally don't. For athletes, trying to give yourself a hormonal or strength advantage through drugs is a testament to who they are a competitor and is not faith to their other competitors. It is also extremely damaging to the body. For parents, I believe that choosing for yourself what you want your child to be is honestly quite selfish apart from the "playing God" idea. I feel like going the natural way allows for the beauty of something unique to really shine and if you are unwilling to give heed to that as a parent I would go as far to say that it reflects your character

  13. Discussion Question

    Even though Sinsheimer assures us the "new eugenics would be voluntary rather than coerced," won't there always be some danger of "culling the unfit?" Isn't it inevitable that we will marginalize those who either can't afford enhancements or begin below the bar anyway?

  14. Quiz Question

    What should we be doing with our "new genetic powers?"

  15. This video is about how a parent who"flew blind" was faced with a terrible tragedy but out of love for her son, refused to let his light and potential be over shadowed by it. As a result, it shows as a huge inspiration and reflects the strength of her love and integrity. This degree of strength I couldn't imagine coming from a designer parent which is why I don't sympathize


  16. Quiz question: What was the name of the article Sinshiemer wrote arguing for freedom of choice? pg 97

  17. This is a great TED talk about a kind mind-set of success that discourages a meritocratic society that has lost humility, and encourages a society in which one's bad fortune is look upon with sympathy.


  18. What is the connection between solidarity and giftedness? (pg 91)

  19. Discussion Question
    I think that criticizing parents for "flying blind" is normally unjust because life is all about chance (the chance of birth characteristics in this case), but parents who know that their child will have a great probability of a serious impairment should be more careful and make more effort to prevent the birth of a human with such defects.

  20. This video may help some people understand genetics a little better or introduce beginning ideas.

  21. DQ
    We have discussed how genetic modification of the human race could interfere in a negative way; however, should people that want to use genetic modification on themselves or children be restricted if they truely want this technology?

  22. Here is a link to genetic engineered crops in the United States during 2013:

  23. The Act of Mercy Killing May not be as Merciful as We Think.

    When focusing on the topic of euthanasia, my views of it tend to lie more with the “anti-“. Euthanasia, also known as “mercy killing” or “assisted suicide” is the process in which a person—in this case a practitioner—deliberately puts another individual or patient to death via an incurable or painful disease that is intended as an act of mercy. Although cultural views on this practice are mixed, I feel that the notion of purposely ending one’s life is cruel and inhumane. This is not to say that I would feel comfortable standing by and witnessing as patients scream in agony and pain, but at the same time, I do not feel that it would be my place to take what was given to them: life by God. When assessing the moral validity of euthanasia, I always take religious, psychological and emotional, and personal views into account.
    As a practicing Christian, I heavily take religious reasons into consideration when thinking wisely on my decisions on euthanasia. Major religions including Christianity, Catholicism, and Judaism disagree with the idea of euthanasia as well. The common belief among these three religions is that life is a gift that is given from God—and man was made in His image. Likewise, it is not man’s right to interfere with the natural process of death.
    When thinking ahead to the mental effect that partaking in the assistance of euthanasia would have on me, it makes me fear that my life would no longer be the same. The psychological and emotional torture that would arise from ending a patient’s life would be too overbearing to handle. I believe that many individuals may feel that they do not—or will not— feel the guilt or shame that may accompany their involvement in delivering euthanasia on a patient. This just goes to show that people’s perspectives on the topic are different. However, due to my belief, I feel that the act of performing euthanasia would go against my views and thus stain me with a guilty conscious that would be hard to overcome. To prevent suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, I feel that it would be in my best interest to avoid self-involvement in assisting suicide.
    It is no shock that the role of a physician is stressful—especially when that role consist of making tough decisions such as assisting in the act of mercy killing. I understand that practice is not always anticipated, but in situations where it is, I feel that it should be avoided. Alternative measures can and should be taken regardless of the problems that it may bring along. As I stated earlier, I am not blinded to the opposition who would claim that it is easier for societal members that have not witnessed family and friends suffer excruciating pain to be against the act of euthanasia. And I know that this will always be a hot topic in our culture, but just because many people approve of the idea of mercy killing that does not mean the practice is okay, or even Godly.