Note for PHIL 164 at UMass(1)
Note for PHIL 164 at UMass(1)
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by an elite notetaker on Friday February 6, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to a course at University of Massachusetts taught by a professor in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 12 views.
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Date Created: 02/06/15
Medical Ethics 042809 Phil 1643 Spring 09 l Instructor Kristoffer Ahlstrom leayrtmpyzarumamedu l httppeopleumassedukahlstro164 THE HARM PRINCIPLE As we have seen developments in genetic technology have enabled us to prevent or cure a series of genetic disabilities It is likely that the scope of our technology will increase Is this something we should welcome or are there aspects to such developments that we might want to prevent Or should we give full freedom to people who want to pursue the genetic horizon Here is a straightforward principle to keep in mind The Harm Primipe The only purpose for which power can be exercised against someone s will is to prevent harm to others We have talked about two forms ofharm in relation to medical choices 1 The harm associated with wind we owe to ellierpeepe 2 The harm associated with making the 110751 at werxepaee lum neeemay How can these two forms of harm be brought to bear on the issue of regulatinggenelz39e choices MEDICAL CHOICES VS ENHANCEMENTS Many people think that it s justi able to make genetic choices only if they are medial That is they consider it acceptable to utilize genetic technology for the purpose of having a child that is healthy and ableibodied but not to promote non medical enhamemenli Problem Why do we take it to be desirable to use genetic technology for the purpose of promoting health Be cause sickness and disability are taken to be obstacles to human ourishing But if so can t the same argument be applied to enhancements That is can it not be argued that failing to enhance someone s genes provides an obstai cle to ourishing Reply Not necessarily We must distinguish between 17am and were nonibem l If my employer raises me salary to 200000 then I ll be greatly bene ted given my needs However if he fails to do so I will not be harmed But now compare this to a scenario in which he fires me In that scenario he deprives me of something thatI need namely an income by way ofwhich I can provide for me and my family And only if I m deprived of a need can I claim to be harmed Counterreply Sure but does the distinction between harm and mere nonibenefit really coincide with any robust distinction between medical and nonimedical choices Ifit does it seems that they both vary with our expeelalz39em Today we expect a lot more from life in terms ofboth happiness leisure and health than people could reasonably do only a hundred years back So perhaps today s enhancements will become tomorrow s medical choices TWO FURTHER WORRJES What this suggests is that even if there 2395 a distinction between medical choices and enhancements this distinction is likely to vary with cultural and societal developments and expectations and hence not provide a very robust benchmark for the regulation of genetic choices So what are some concerns relevant to the latter 7 Inequality Unless we regulate accessibility to options for genetic choices rich people will buy more enhance ments and thereby amplify as well as replicate inequalities over time both nationally and internationally 7 Futility If the advantages of enhancements arepeiilz39enaiie if the only reason they re better is because no one else has themithen widespread enhancement will be futile As economist Fred Hirsch puts it If every one stands on tiptoe no one sees better HUMAN NATURE There is a further and somewhat more philosophical worry which is that genetic enhancements would somehow con stitute a threat to the very core ofhuman nature or to human dignity Problem What is this core of human nature supposed to consist in Interestingly a lot of the qualities that people tend to quote such as consciousness cooperation and altruism are not unique to humans More than that under stood as biological creatures with an evolutionary history it seems likely that some aspects of our natureisuch as aggression xenophobia etciare of a kind that we would want and already try to munlmzd rather than preserve So as Glover points out the issue does not seem to be so much to preserve a core ofhuman nature as to preserve qualities that we deem valuable So what s valuable about a human life HUNTAN FLOU39RISHING This brings us back to the issue ofharm and its opposite human ourishing What constitutes human ourishing There are two interconnected traditions in philosophy with respect to this question Normal Functioning and Human Goods A Normal Functioning Account One way to understand human ourishing is in terms of normal functioning ie in terms of having the physical and psychological functions possessed by a normal member of one s species Prokem 7 People with disabilities by virtue ofwhich they deviate from the statistical norm need not be uni happy and perfectly normal people need not be happy In other words there does not seem to be a necessary connection between normality and ourishing Prokem 2 The account seems to rule out the possibility that there may be aspects to a ourishing life that go be jondthe normal perhaps because we have not discovered these aspects yet After all why should we assume that only those things that make up a statistically normal hue man life should make up the paradigm of ourishing A Human Goods Account One way to avoid these problems is to not define ourish ing in terms of any statistical norm but rather directly in terms of the goods we take are central to a good life such as health nourishment shelter sex mobility and an abili ity to reasoniwhether or not people normally have ac cess to these things Moreover we may leave room for an openiended list of such human goods to re ect the fact that there might be goods that are still to be discovered Happiness Traditional Utilitarianism The main alternative to the accounts on the left is an ac count of human ourishing in terms ofhappiness In its most crudest form human ourishing would consist in the presence ofpleasure and the absence ofpain Probem This seems to yield a very imiled account ofhui man ourishing To see why consider the following Imagine a machine that can stimulate the brain to give any set of experiences and that can be adapted to the tastes of different people As a result people can be offered a life time of experiences ofintense pleasure and no pain Would you be willing to be hooked up to such a machine for the rest ofyour life assuming perfect technology DesireiSatisfaction Utilitarianism Another way to understand human ourishing is in terms of the satisfaction of desires The more people s desires are satisfied the grater their happiness and the more ourishing a world Probem 7 It seems likely that there are certain desires we ought no to fulfill eg those pertaining to psychological deviance So desire satisfaction is no always a good thing Probem 2 Certain desires are formed against the back ground of impoverishedpn remm eg due to poverty and destitution Satisfying those desires does not seem to make for a more ourishing world Glover When thinking about what constitutes human ourishing we need to a take into account how the life seems to the person living it 5 leave room for human goods still to be discovered a keep in mind that the most appropriate action to take sometimes is to introduce people to the desires associated with a rich and fulfilling life
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