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Posted by on Nov 4, 2016 | 1 comment

Do Doctors Need Consciences?

Do Doctors Need Consciences?

Should medical professionals have consciences? A recent statement by a group of bioethicists suggests we might be better off if they didn’t. In their words, “The status quo regarding conscientious objection in healthcare in the UK and several other modern Western countries is indefensible.”[1] Instead, the bioethicists recommend 10 ethical guidelines for conscientious objection, including the following: Healthcare practitioners’ primary obligations are towards their patients, not towards their own personal conscience. When the patient’s wellbeing (or best interest, or health) is at stake, healthcare practitioners’ professional obligations should normally take priority over their personal moral or religious views. In the event of a conflict between practitioners’ conscience and a patient’s desire for a legal, professionally sanctioned medical service, healthcare practitioners should always ensure that patients receive timely medical care. … In emergency situations, when referral is not possible, or when it poses too great a burden on patients or on the healthcare system, health practitioners should perform the treatment themselves. Although it is short and underdeveloped, the statement contains...

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Posted by on Jun 7, 2016 | 1 comment

Can Hermeneutics be Ethical? Ricoeur and the War

Can Hermeneutics be Ethical? Ricoeur and the War

A few weeks ago, Barney wrote a post about Ricoeur and his mistaken pacifism.[1] Barney’s article left me with questions that led me to do some research. This research, in turn, led me beyond the specific issue of Ricoeur’s change of heart to the broader question of the relationship between his philosophy and politics. I found two pertinent articles: David Kaplan’s “Paul Ricoeur and the Nazis,” a response to “Paul Ricoeur as Another” by Richard Wolin, in which Wolin questions the political implications of Ricoeur’s hermeneutics, and relationship between his philosophy and ethics.[2] That Ricoeur changed his mind on a political issue in interesting; what is more interesting is the question of whether his passivity and (as Wolin sees it) pro-Vichy politics are the result of his philosophical views. Pacifism in the inter-war years in France, John Taylor explains, stemmed from the French view of war—that another was likely.[3] Ricoeur’s pre-war pacifism arose from his doubt regarding the expansionism of European democracies (especially France and Britain) and from his...

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Posted by on May 24, 2016 | 2 comments

Sabbath and the End of Work

Sabbath and the End of Work

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” When I was a child and was asked this question, I said I wanted to be a missionary astronaut. In one sense that’s a very fantastical response, but in another it’s very ordinary—I was asked what I wanted to be and my response, as with most children conditioned by our society, was to give a job description. When I eventually became an adult and was studying theology at school, I was inevitably asked “What are you going to do with that?” Again, the expected answer was a job. And now that I’m in the adult world? When I meet new people the inevitable first question people ask is, “What do you do (for a living)?” Human beings are creatures of work, we’ve always been so. So, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the fact that much of our identity can be tied up with what we do. Yet, there is a danger in this close identification, and it’s a danger...

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Posted by on Mar 29, 2016 | 2 comments

Physician-Assisted Death: A Few Thoughts About the Canadian Situation

Physician-Assisted Death: A Few Thoughts About the Canadian Situation

In this blog post I am going to make a variety of observations about physician-assisted death (PAD), physician-assisted suicide (PAS), and euthanasia, in no particular order. Note that each observation will be necessarily compact and incomplete; these are not to be taken as definite statements but pieces of a puzzle to be mulled over as I (we, I hope) reflect on Canada’s situation.

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