Revisiting Physician-Assisted Suicide: Reaffirming the Christian Hippocratic Legacy

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, in combination with handwashing and eye protection, face masks have become necessary apparel for healthcare professionals to prevent transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).[2] As the mouth both breathes and speaks, a barrier to potentially infectious respiratory droplets can also be a barrier to communication. This is obvious to the hearing-impaired, who rely on reading lips to interpret words they cannot clearly hear. Masks also modify communication in subtle ways in which the wearer may be unaware. The masking of facial expressions can alter how the wearer is perceived.

The Pandemic, Empathy Fatigue, and Ethical Motivations: Kant on Conscience and Scotus on Love

In this paper I explain four features of kindness by examining how four artworks depict them: Giotto di Bondone’s painting of St. Francis of Assisi giving his robe to a beggar, the character Bishop Charles-Francois Myriel in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, the person Adam in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and the role of Sonya Semyonovna Marmeladov in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. These four examples describe kindness as supererogatory, altruistic, a belief about how the world ought to be, and the possibility of unction. With this understanding of kindness, I examine the most likely moral motives of the physician in physician-assisted suicide and find that the practice does not display the four characteristics of kindness but rather displays the emotion (though it may be sincere) of condescending pity towards the unfortunate people who deem their lives are devoid of the value to live.

Review Essay: Odyssey into Post – Reality? Review of Chalmers’ Reality+

I recently saw a satirical video advertising doctors as the solution to confusion surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The video made the point that doctors, people who have dedicated close to a decade of education to understanding disease processes, have been some of the most ignored voices in the Covid-19 crisis. Tom Nichols, Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College, would argue that this assessment is true not only of medicine, but also of expert fields in general. Nichols, in this book diagnoses the death of expertise as a disregard for experts by the lay public. Nichols argues that the American lay person no longer considers the expert’s opinion to have extraordinary weight, and the expert subsequently withdraws from conversations where their knowledge is not valued (Nichols 2017, 4–5).

First Principles for Medical Artificial Intelligence

Medical artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, by their capacity to decipher enormous data sets, identify meaningful patterns beyond what human intelligence can recognize, and in some cases render decisions without human assistance, are poised to transform healthcare. As with any powerful technology, careful ethical analysis is needed if we are to realize the benefits of AI while avoiding its perils. Four available perspectives are recognized. One perspective is technological sentimentalism, which resists novel technologies that seem to displace a more natural way of inhabiting the world. A second perspective is technological messianism, which uncritically welcomes novel technology as intrinsically good and the answer to all human problems. A third perspective, common today, is technological pragmatism, which weighs benefits and risks in a utilitarian framework that emphasizes empirical facts but disregards moral values, considering them to be opinions without consequence or validity. A fourth and preferred perspective is technological responsibilism, which considers not only outcomes but also the moral values laden in the design and implementation of technology. Technological responsibilism respects the deeply human attributes of voluntary responsibility, moral agency, and character. Morally responsible use of AI is needed if healthcare professionals are to sustain their focus, not on technology, but on patients.

Book Review: “Disability and the Church”

Known as the “Autism Pastor,” Lamar Hardwick is an essential voice in a rising field: the theology of disability. In Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion, the author is true to the subtitle, casting a pastor’s vision for positive change in the church.

Book Review: “Invitation to Christian Ethics”

Christian ethics and moral decision-making can be complex and intimidating to non-theologians. In addition, the authoritative scriptures do not directly address every possible ethical issue. This problem is especially true in bioethics, which evolves continuously based on medical, scientific, and technological advancements. How should Christians view such issues as artificial intelligence, gene editing, and bodily enhancements? Pastors, healthcare professionals, and lay congregants need help. Invitation to Christian Ethics: Moral Reasoning and Contemporary Issues, by Kenneth Magnuson, gives moral guidance to the Christian community to navigate these problems. While not perfect, it offers a solid philosophical and practical approach to Christian ethics.

Book Review: “Losing Our Dignity”

In Losing Our Dignity, Camosy’s central driving thesis is that the authority and power of modern medicine “have put an increasing number of human beings outside the circle of protection based on fundamental human equality” (p. 13). This loss of human equality and dignity is based primarily on cognitive disadvantages among neurologically diverse individuals, from those with Down syndrome to others with Alzheimer’s disease. In the eyes of an increasingly secular world, such people have less to offer, therefore less dignity.

Book Review: Dennis M. Sullivan, Douglas C. Anderson, and Justin W. Cole, “Ethics in Pharmacy Practice: A Practical Guide”

Along with nurses and medical doctors, pharmacists have long been recognized, and honored, by the public as professionals exhibiting honesty and high ethical standards. Serving as the medication expert in the healthcare system, both other medical professionals and patients alike rely heavily on the pharmacist’s knowledge and skills related to an increasingly complex landscape of medications and the diseases (or situations) that such are intended to prevent or treat. And it is expected—assumed even—that the pharmacist will leverage such expertise in the best interest of the patient—as a fiduciary, if you will—exercising a competent, selfless, and wise approach to each patient’s care.