The year 2023 is the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Blaise Pascal. In one of the lengthier fragments of his Pensées, he ponders the dramatically contrasting magnitudes we encounter in our cosmos. “The whole visible world is only an imperceptible dot in nature’s ample bosom. . . . Nature is an infinite sphere whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere.” Now look at the other end: the mite with a “minute body” with “minute parts,” including “veins in its legs, blood in the veins, humours in the blood, drops in the humours, vapours in the drops.” Suspended between the “two abysses of infinity and nothingness” is humankind.
Flourishing and contentment are connected but distinct. In Christian perspective, the goal of human enhancement is not conducive to human flourishing, whereas a therapeutic approach to the body is. However, the virtue of contentment means willingness to forgo even therapeutic treatment under certain circumstances. This article attempts to argue for these conclusions with reference to the contrast between the natural and the transhuman and by considering the significance of disability and the church as the body of Christ.
Mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), also known as mitochondrial donation (MD), is promoted as an option to prevent transmission of mitochondrial disorders to offspring. Since its first reported use in humans, MRT has raised numerous ethical and medical concerns. This article will explore the technology behind MRT and arguments in favor of and opposing it, concluding that a response through the lens of Scripture promotes flourishing of individuals and families affected by mitochondrial disorders without sacrificing others in the process.
The end of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be achieved through large-scale vaccination of the global population. So far vaccination against COVID-19 has been shown to reduce mortality and morbidity, minimize economic and social burdens, and ensure that people resume their everyday activities. Fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is critical in ensuring ethical distribution globally. This paper discusses ethical allocation of COVID-19 vaccines, focusing on models that have been proposed for global allocation, as well as provides a discussion on a Christian response to the pandemic.
What is bioethics? Or, more specifically, what exactly do you study in bioethics or a bioethics program? Does bioethics include X . . .
Support for physician-assisted suicide is growing as a result of ever-expanding cultural pressure. Healthcare professionals should oppose this trend and recognize that physician-assisted suicide is a misguided answer to human suffering. For 25 centuries, the Hippocratic Oath has served as the ultimate credo of the medical professional, and serves as a more trustworthy guide for professional ethics than contemporary culture. In this essay, I reflect on the Hippocratic Oath from a Christian perspective and reaffirm that physician-assisted suicide, despite growing in cultural acceptance, remains a misled answer to human suffering and as such is dangerous for the profession of medicine. Physician-assisted suicide corrupts the medical profession, relies on a distorted view of autonomy, and subverts true compassion. The way forward for the medical professional, in contrast, is an ethic of a “good death” comprised of healing, palliative care, and true compassion.
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.
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.
Carl Trueman, a church historian by training and, in recent years, a cultural analyst, has given the evangelical world—and others willing to listen—a sophisticated historical and philosophical genealogy of the current cultural crisis in the West. It is a “how we arrived at our present situation” book, filled with evidence and intellectual connections over about 300 years. Trueman searches for the roots, not only of our sexual mores and practices, but of the broader ideas that form what many would label the reigning worldview.
Sometimes a book has pages filled with the reality of truth. The Way of Medicine: Ethics and the Healing Profession, by Farr Curlin and Christopher Tollefsen, is one such work. In a relatively short and readable volume, the authors explore and analyze the how’s and why’s of medical practice, from the ancient model of Hippocrates to the modern “service-provider model.” Using case examples, moral theory, foundational ethics, and experience, they charge after the conflicts between the modern model and the more ancient “way of medicine,” which they espouse as “a practice oriented toward the patient’s health as one basic human good” (p. 54). Their central questions are: “what is medicine?” and “what is medicine for?” They answer these by embracing clinical practice as a profession, not a job.