Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies

Greetings from Stephen Latham, Bioethics Center Director

We have a few events for your attention this week. On Monday, our Tech and Ethics group will hear from Noel Sharkey (Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Sheffield) on “Ethical Trading with Robots: From Care to Killing.” The talk will be at 4:15 in A002 of the ISPS building. At about the same time, there’ll be a different sort of consideration of care and killing happening across campus: Dr. Thomas Duffy, member of the Bioethics Center’s Executive Committee, will engage in a discussion on “Euthanasia in America” with Divinity School Visiting Professor Cathleen Kaveny (Law and Theology, Notre Dame). The talk, sponsored by the Right to Life Fellowship at Yale Divinity School, will take place at 4:30 in the Div School’s RSV room.

On Wednesday, our sister institution the Program for Biomedical Ethics at the Medical School will hear from Yale Philosophy Professor Joshua Knobe. His talk, entitled “In Search of the True Self,” will involve the data he’s gathered about the differing intuitions that liberals and conservatives have about revelation of the “true self.” The talk will be at 4:30 in the Cohen Auditorium of the Child Study Center. Refreshments will be served, so please RSVP to karen.kolb@yale.edu.

Dates to save: Don’t forget our upcoming Bioethics Legal Research Workshop on December 4. Use a Yale login to sign up at the link, or contact Jason.Eiseman@Yale.edu.  And on Thursday, December 5, another Program for Biomedical Ethics event at Cohen Auditorium:  a talk by Alice Dreger (Northwestern, Medical Humanities and Bioethics) on “Surgical Normalization for Children Born with Ambiguous Genitalia.” And our co-sponsored weekend conference on Personhood Beyond the Human, December 6-8.  

If you have news/events for this newsletter, send an email to me at Stephen.Latham@Yale.edu with the word “Frimail” in your subject line.

  Monday, November 18 at 4:14 PM
Technology & Ethics group
Location: 77 Prospect St, room A002
Speaker: Noel Sharkey, University of Sheffield
Topic: Ethical Trading with Robots: From care to killing

Bioethics Legal Research Workshop
December 4th, 2013, 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Location: Yale Law School: Computer Classroom on L2

This session, co-sponsored by the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics and the Medical School’s Program on Biomedical Ethics, will introduce non-lawyers to the principles of legal research with a focus on researching bioethics issues. The session will focus on using resources available to the wider Yale (non-law school) community and on the Yale network, as well as free and low-cost options for research. Please register here.
Contact: Jason Eiseman

  Updates from the Summer Institute

Campus Events

Conferences & Off Campus Events

Grants, Fellowships & Jobs

Calls for Papers & Nominations



Click here to sign up for the Bioethics Newsletter



Updates from the Summer Institute

From Associate Director Carol Pollard

*James Muller writes: “I am writing personal statements for applications right now, and it got me thinking about my experience at Yale this past summer and how much I learned over the course of a short summer.  Thank you so much for all of the work you put into that program.  I had such a great time learning and making friends with people who share a passion for bioethics.  I can’t wait to come back next summer to the end-of-term banquet!”  (James, Good Luck!)

*Zohar Lederman writes: “The Ha'aretz newspaper just published a piece I wrote about the vaccine fiasco in Israel.  For your Hebrew readers, click here”.  Zohar received his MD in Italy and is now a PhD candidate at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics, National University of Singapore.  (Congratulations Zohar!)

*Donna Hanrahan writes: “I have been accepted as a Yale/Hastings Scholar, and I plan to work on a project on "Citizen Science Through Web-Based Platforms" in January and/or March 2014.  (Congratulations Donna!)

*Daniel Livendahl writes: “Going back to medical school this semester (in Sweden) has been a lot of fun!  It is very nice to finally have reached the first clinical semester; it feels like I've been waiting for this moment for the first 2.5 years. :)  But it is super-busy, being scheduled roughly 40 hours a week and then needing to study the literature in evenings and weekends.  It feels especially strange after my gap year, but all the hard work is well worth it!  I feel very confident about my choice of career. At the Hastings Center I decided to re-write my summer paper in a different and more personal way.  I was so inspired by the environment at Hastings, so I decided to write my personal story about my cousin, the one I told you about in the beginning of the summer.  So I divided my paper into 2 parts: a narrative followed by a discussion and scientific review addressing some of the thought and issues raised in the narrative. The research at Hastings did not develop into a second paper since my field of interest was very broad; "this is a Ph.D or two at least" was said after my lunch presentation.  Instead I took some of the new perspectives into my paper and made it double length.  I also gained a lot more knowledge in the area of pediatric palliative care at Hastings as well as during the later correspondence with the international email-network that I established.  Everyone was very helpful and encouraging.  So when I decide to delve into this field again I’ll already have a lot of resources and connections.  Last week has been pretty amazing.  Apart from a very interesting rotation within cardiology, I have been appointed as vice president of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) in southern Sweden, been selected to be part of the Swedish delegation during the next international meeting within the organization in Tunisia in March, and I’ve also been granted a research position in Taiwan next summer.  I am very grateful and full of inspiration to face these exciting challenges this upcoming year.” (Good Luck Daniel and Congratulations!)

*Jack Brackney writes: “I’m coming back to Yale in December for the “Beyond Personhood” conference.  Can’t wait to see you!”  (Jack, we’re looking forward to seeing you, too!)

*Alma Massaro writes, in response to an article about the US slaughterhouses legally beginning to slaughter horses for the first time since 2007: “This is one of the problematic consequences of welfarism: once you stop killing one species just because it is a "privileged" one - and not because it is as sentient as others - the time could come when it will lose its privilege.  That said, this is really sad news.”  (Joel Marks, co-organizer along with Sue Kopp of our Animal Ethics Study Group, sent along this of recent updates from an organization devoted to stopping such slaughter - including opportunities to lobby Congresspersons.)

*I had dinner with Csaba Bardossy and Agata Bloswick this week.  It was so exciting to hear about their academic exploits and of course other more personal exploits as well!  (Csaba is studying here at the Bioethics Center as a Bioethics Center Scholar until December 21st; Agata was on a US tour to find suitable research sites for a project she’s working on.)


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This Week on Campus

Monday, November 18

Climate & Health Seminar
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 21 Sachem St, room 110
Speaker:Kevin Lafferty, Ecologist, US Geological Survey
Topic: Will a Warmer World be a Sicker World?

History of Science & Medicine Colloqium
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 333 Cedar St, Fulton Room
Speaker: Graeme Gooday, Professor of the History of Science and Technology, and Acting Head of School (School of Philosophy), University of Leeds
Topic: 'Hard of Hearing'? Diverse Anglo-American Experiences at the Aural Intersection of Conversation, Assistive Technologies and Clinical Intervention

Wednesday, November 20

Biomedical Ethics Seminar
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: 230 South Frontage Rd, Cohen Auditorium
Speaker: Joshua Knobe, Professor of Philosophy & Psychology, Yale University
Topic: In Search of the True Self

Thursday, November 21

Humanities in Medicine Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: 300 Cedar St, Anlyan Auditorium
Speaker: Christine Montross, MD, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Human Behavior; &
Co-Director, Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Brown University
Topic: Abiding with Patients

Climate & Energy/Environmental Law & Policy Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: 195 Prospect St, Burke Auditorium
Speaker: Rit Aggarwala, Special Sdvisor to the Chair, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
Topic: Climate Change Adaptation in Megacities

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Conferences & Off Campus Events

Whine & Wine: What exactly is Palliative care and how do you ask your doctor for it?
Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Kelly’s Restaurant & Bar 196 Crown Street, New Haven
Click here
for more information

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Jacksonville, Florida | Thursday, February 27, 2014 | 10:15 am-4:30 pm
Go to http://go.iu.edu/pri for information, a printable flyer, and updates.
Sponsored by the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, Indiana University Bloomington and Texas Tech University with the support of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.
It is time to reconsider our approaches to promoting research integrity and dealing with research misconduct and questionable research practices. This workshop will be interactive and collaborative with a focus on improvement. The three presenters will critique selected current practices, identify critical shortcomings, and outline suggestions for improvement. All participants are encouraged to bring and share their own thoughts about problems and solutions, and to challenge or supplement the presenters' arguments. David E. Wright, Director of the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, will participate in the workshop pending funding availability. Presentations will include Next Steps: Beyond RCR Instruction  by Kenneth D. Pimple, Ph.D., Director of Teaching Research Ethics Programs, Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, Indiana University Bloomington; The Survey of Organizational Research Climate by Brian Martinson, Ph.D., Senior Research Investigator, HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research; and Compliance, Curriculum, and Community: One Institution's Approach to Research Integrity by Kathryn Partin, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Research, Colorado State University. The workshop will take place the day before the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) in the meeting hotel. Register for Promoting Research Integrity at the APPE Web site at http://appe.indiana.edu/annual-meeting/annual-meeting/. Box lunch is included in registration. For more information on the workshop's content contact Kenneth D. Pimple pimple@indiana.edu; on registering and the APPE national meeting: appe@indiana.edu; and on joining our list of sponsors: Glenda Murray glmurray@indiana.edu.

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Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

Cooperative Training Partnership in Environmental Health Sciences Research http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2014/2014_nheerl.html
Open Date: 11/01/2013  -  Close Date: 01/14/2014
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through its National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory announces the posting of the Request for Applications: Cooperative Training Partnership in Environmental Health Sciences Research. The objectives of the cooperative agreements to be awarded under this RFA are to administer and conduct the training of postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students in areas of environmental research with a focus on increasing public knowledge and training new scientists. The opportunity to gain research experience with senior scientists at one of the US EPA's premier environmental laboratories in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina locations should enhance the experience and capabilities of students and position them to become leaders within the environmental health scientific community. The partnership between a successful institution and ORD would benefit the public by training a new generation of environmental health scientists. Cooperative training experience with scientists at the ORD laboratories could also provide a benefit to University faculty to access a broad range of knowledge, experience, and laboratory resources not normally available in a single academic environment. There will be an expectation that mentorship of students and postdoctoral scientists will be an active cooperative effort shared by EPA researchers and university faculty advisors, typically, but not exclusively.  Training in professional scientific ethics and quality assurance will typically be provided both by the university and EPA programs.  Cooperative training experience might include, for example, problem and hypothesis formulation, experimental design, experiments conducted in the field or at the EPA laboratory facilities, data analysis, and quality assurance, reporting, presenting results and manuscript development and publication. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers would be expected to present their research results in at least one regional or national level scientific conference.

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Petrie-Flom Center Academic Fellowships, 2014-2016
The Academic Fellowship is a postdoctoral program specifically designed to identify, cultivate, and promote promising scholars early in their careers. Fellows are selected from among recent graduates, young academics, and mid-career practitioners who are committed to spending two years at the Center pursuing publishable research that is likely to make a significant contribution to the field of health law policy, medical innovation policy, or bioethics. For more information about current and past fellows, please visit the Academic Fellowship section of our website. By the start of the fellowship term, applicants must hold an advanced degree in a discipline that they intend to apply to issues falling under the Center's umbrella. The Center particularly encourages applications from those who intend to pursue careers as tenure-track law professors, but will consider any applicant who demonstrates an interest and ability to produce outstanding scholarship at the intersection of law and health policy, bioethics, or biotechnology during the term of the fellowship. Applicants will be evaluated by the quality and probable significance of their research proposals, and by their record of academic and professional achievement.  Applications will be accepted from September 16, 2013 through November 18, 2013. For more information, see the full call for applications here or contact Administrative Director Cristine Hutchison-Jones at chutchisonjones@law.harvard.edu

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Calls for Papers & Nominations

Call for Proposals: 37th Annual Health Law Professors Conference, June 2014
Deadline: January 14, 2014
The University of California, Hastings College of the Law and the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics (ASLME) look forward to hosting the 37th Annual Health Law Professors Conference from June 5-7th, 2014 in San Francisco. As we begin to prepare the conference agenda, we request your ideas and proposals for the conference program.  You may submit two different types of proposals - a panel proposal or an presentation proposal.  Both types of proposals may be submitted through one online form (link provided below). Panel Proposal - select this option if you would like to propose organizing an entire concurrent session at the conference, including  proposing the topic, selecting presenters, and moderating the session;  Presentation Proposal - select this option if you would like to propose presenting on a specific topic or paper as part of a concurrent session.  If chosen, speakers will be allotted approximately 15-20 minutes to present on the topic as part of a larger session. Please also indicate if you are interested in moderating your concurrent session. You may submit more than one proposal, but please indicate your order of priority so that as many of our colleagues as possible can be included in the program. To ensure full consideration, please submit your proposal[s] by no later than Monday, January 14, 2014. We will finalize the preliminary schedule for all sessions in mid-February. You can submit your proposals online at https://uchastings.webconnex.com/aslme2014.  If you have any technical issues with the form, please contact Roxy Bischoff at bischofr@uchastings.edu. Finally, please note that this website is provided solely for proposal submission, not conference registration. ASLME will provide and circulate an online conference registration process through its website in the near future. Questions related to conference planning, registration, and logistics may be directed to ASLME's Katie Kenney Johnson [kjohnson@aslme.org].  We look forward to receiving and reviewing your proposals.  If you have any suggestions for topics that you would especially like to see covered or questions about the substantive conference programming, please contact Jaime S. King, Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of the Law, at kingja@uchastings.edu

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The Hastings Center Report and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues are planning a special issue to address current themes in bioethics education. Mildred Solomon, president and CEO of The Hastings Center, and Lisa M Lee, Executive Director of the Bioethics Commission, will guest edit the issue. We invite papers on the following broad topics: Assessing the state of bioethics education (What work has been done? How do we assess? What are potential measures? What is the research agenda?);  Incorporating professional, clinical, research, and public health ethics education into medical and STEM education at secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels;  Methods for bioethics instruction (casuistry, decision-making frameworks, pedagogical innovations, interpreting the role of history, etc.);  Best practices in bioethics education. We encourage manuscripts from individuals teaching in traditional and nontraditional settings with traditional as well as nontraditional students. All manuscripts will be subject to the standard peer review process by the Hastings Center Report editor and peer reviewers. Manuscripts should be submitted by email. Please submit electronic copies in either *.rtf (rich text format) or *.doc (MS Word document format) to editorial@thehastingscenter.org. Specify that the manuscript is being submitted to the “Teaching Bioethics Special Report” of the Hastings Center Report. Name(s) and contact information for the author(s) should appear only on an accompanying cover sheet. Include a mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, and an email address. In addition to this cover sheet, all manuscripts submitted for consideration should be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 150 words, four to six key words for indexing purposes, and for each author, a signed conflict of interest form, which is available on the Hastings Center Report’s website. Submission guidelines, also online, give formatting instructions for essays.  The deadline for submission is Monday, March 10, 2014. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Articles of Interest

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In the News

Featured Article

Kenny, Steve. Obama Selects Health Policy Advocate As Surgeon General. The New York Times. 14 November 2013.
President Obama nominated Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, an early supporter and grass-roots advocate for the Affordable Care Act, as surgeon general on Thursday. Dr. Murthy, 36, is a founder and the president of Doctors for America, a group that campaigned for the health care law before Congress passed it in 2010 and that was an outgrowth of Doctors for Obama, which worked to help elect the president in 2008. He is a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Continue reading...


Than, Ker. Montreal Protocol Helped Slow Down Global Warming. National Geographic. 10 November 2013.
It's called a "global warming hiatus" and it's been a puzzle to scientists. If earth is indeed warming up, then why have the temperatures of earth's surface remained relatively steady for the last 15 years despite increasing emissions of carbon dioxide? Researchers now say they have identified another possible cause: According to a study in this week's issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, led by climatologist Francisco Estrada of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the global warming pause is an unintended consequence of an international ban in the late 1980s against chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, chemicals that were destroying the Earth's ozone layer. Continue reading...

Fountain, Henry and Justin Gillis. Typhoon In Philippines Casts Long Shadow Over U.N. Talks On Climate Treaty. The New York Times. 11 November 2013.
The typhoon that struck the Philippines produced an outpouring of emotion on Monday at United Nations talks on a global climate treaty in Warsaw, where delegates were quick to suggest that a warming planet had turned the storm into a lethal monster. Olai Ngedikes, the lead negotiator for an alliance of small island nations, said in a statement that the typhoon, named Haiyan, which by some estimates killed 10,000 people in one city alone, “serves as a stark reminder of the cost of inaction on climate change and should serve to motivate our work in Warsaw.” Continue reading...

Memmott, Mark. ‘Stop This Madness,’ Tearful Filipino Pleads at Climate Talks. NPR. 11 November 2013.
His eyes filling with tears and his voice choking with emotion over the disaster inflicted on his country, the delegate from the Philippines pleaded at U.N. climate talks Monday for his colleagues from around the world to agree on ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists blame for global warming. Distraught over the devastation wrecked on the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan, Yeb Sano also said he will fast during the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, which opened on Monday and is set to run through Nov. 22. Shortly after his remarks, which drew a standing ovation, Sano tweeted that he was on "DAY 1. #FastingForTheClimate." Continue reading...


Charles, Dan. What’s The Most Important Thing Food Labels Should Tell Us? NPR. 14 November 2013.
Food labels have become battlegrounds. Just last week, voters in Washington state narrowly defeated a measure that would have required food manufacturers to reveal whether their products contain genetically modified ingredients. Supporters of the initiative — and similar proposals in other states — say that consumers have a right to know what they're eating. But there are lots of things we might want to know about our food. So what belongs on the label? Continue reading...

Health and Medicine

Lee, Jolie. E-Cigarette Ads Model Big Tobacco Ads of Old. USA Today. 11 November 2013.
Some e-cigarette companies are following in the marketing footsteps of tobacco companies: celebrity appeals and flavors that could attract kids. The Food and Drug Administration restricts how regular cigarettes are advertised, but e-cigarettes fall into a loophole for federal regulation. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said these new kinds of cigarettes threaten the next generation and some members of Congress are urging the FDA to regulate e-cigarette ads as well. Continue reading...

Hellmich, Nanci. Doctors Urged To Treat Obesity Like Any Other Ailment. USA Today. 12 November 2013.
There's no ideal diet that's right for everyone, but that shouldn't stop the nation's doctors from helping their heavy patients battle weight issues as aggressively as things like blood pressure, according to new obesity treatment guidelines out Tuesday. The guidelines, from three leading health groups, say that doctors need to help obese patients figure out the best plan, whether it's a vegetarian diet, low-sodium plan, commercial weight-loss program or a low-carb diet. Continue reading...

Leasca, Stacey. Russian Subway Now Accepting 30 Squats As Payment For Ride. Los Angeles Times. 13 November 2013.
Want a free subway ride in Russia? All you have to do is work up a little sweat. In an effort to promote both the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi and a healthier lifestyle, the Moscow metro has set up a special vending machine that offers travelers one free ticket in exchange for performing 30 squats. “We wanted to show that the Olympic Games is not just an international competition that people watch on TV, but that it is also about getting everyone involved in a sporting lifestyle,” Alexander Zhukov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. Continue reading...

Silver-Greenberg, Jessica, and Susanne Craig. Con Men Prey on Confusion over Health Care Act. The New York Times. 9 October 2013.
To the list of problems plaguing President Obama’s health care law, add one more — fraud. With millions of Americans frustrated and bewildered by the trouble-prone federal website for health insurance, con men and unscrupulous marketers are seizing their chance. State and federal authorities report a rising number of consumer complaints, ranging from deceptive sales practices to identity theft, linked to the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading...

Medical Ethics

Ramzy, Austin. No Quick Fixes for China’s Overwhelmed Organ Transplant System. The New York Times. 10 November 2013.
Traditional values and suspicion of underground organ sales have contributed to China having one of the world’s lowest rates of voluntary donations. This in turn has contributed to a reliance on organs from executed criminals, a practice that has been widely criticized in China and abroad as unethical, given that the consent of the condemned is not considered entirely voluntary under the circumstances. The system also raised suspicions that prisoners were executed to meet the demand for transplant organs. Continue reading...

Bidwell, Allie. Survey: Americans Would Share Medical Information For a Price. USA Today. 13 November 2013.
Many Americans would be willing to share private health information, such as blood tests, height and weight measurements and even genetic testing, with their insurance providers if they received a financial incentive to do so, according to a poll released Wednesday by HealthDay and Harris Interactive. Of the more than 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed Oct. 21-23, 76 percent said they would share the results of blood pressure tests, 68 percent said they would reveal whether they have diabetes or high cholesterol, and 49 percent said they would undergo invasive genetic testing to determine their risk of cancer or inherited medical conditions. Continue reading...

Reproductive Health

Robinson, Jessica. So, You Have Gonorrhea. Who Tells Your Ex? NPR. 12 November 2013.
In an effort to stop a spate of gonorrhea outbreaks, at least one public health department in the Pacific Northwest is offering a helpful service to infected patients: anonymous notification of former sexual partners. That's right. A government worker will track down and contact each ex for you. Awkward for all concerned? Yes. But at a time when is becoming stubbornly drug-resistant, health officials see it as time — and embarrassment — well spent. Continue reading...

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In the Journals

Boldt, Joachim. Do We Have A Moral Obligation to Synthesize Organisms to Increase Biodiversity? On Kinship, Awe, and the Value of Life's Diversity. Bioethics. September 2013.
Synthetic biology can be understood as expanding the abilities and aspirations of genetic engineering. Nonetheless, whereas genetic engineering has been subject to criticism due to its endangering biodiversity, synthetic biology may actually appear to prove advantageous for biodiversity. After all, one might claim, synthesizing novel forms of life increases the numbers of species present in nature and thus ought to be ethically recommended. Two perspectives on how to spell out the conception of intrinsic value of biodiversity are examined in order to assess this line of thought. At the cost of introducing two separate capacities of human knowledge acquisition, the ‘admiration stance’ turns out to reject outright the assumption of a synthetic species' intrinsic value and of an imperative to create novel species. The ‘kinship stance’ by contrast does ascribe value to both synthetic and natural species and organisms. Nonetheless, while from this perspective creating novel species may become an ethical demand under certain conditions, it favours changing organisms by getting in contact with them rather than synthesizing them. It is concluded that neither the admiration nor the kinship stance warrants a supposed general moral obligation to create novel species to increase biodiversity. Continue reading…

Rose, Steven. Commentary on Singh: Not robots: Children's perspectives on authenticity, moral agency and stimulant drug treatments Journal of Medical Ethics: Journal of the Institute of Medical Ethics. June 2013.
Singh's study of 150 UK and US children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and prescribed psychotropic medication (primarily Ritalin) concludes on the basis of interviews with the children that 'stimulants improve their capacity for moral agency an ability to meet normative expectations'. Reinterpreted in lay language, she finds that, when taking Ritalin, the children conform to the wishes and expectations of their parents and teachers. They get better grades at school and show less 'oppositional-defiance'. This is not surprising as it is precisely what Ritalin is supposed to do. However, it begs a number of crucial questions, which make up the focus of this commentary. Might it not be that the failure of the child to conform to the expected norms in the non-medicated state is a legitimate expression of the child's own moral agency, rebelling against what he/she experiences as inappropriate or oppressive norms? And might not the decision to medicate the child itself be regarded as an assault on his or her autonomy and moral agency? Continue reading…

Massie, John. Ethical Considerations in Pediatric Oncology: A Case-Based Psychosocial Overview. Pediatric Psycho-Oncology: Psychosocial Aspects and Clinical Interventions. July 2012.
The practice of pediatric oncology is thick with moral dilemmas and potential dilemmas about who is responsible for a child's wellbeing, how a child or adolescent may become involved in their care though they may possess only undeveloped tools of autonomous decision-making, and how to manage the grief of parents while supporting humane end-of-life care for young patients. Through a handful of case discussions, the chapter presents the scope of ethical concerns in pediatric oncology and the value of a psychosocially-attuned approach to analysis and clinical mediation, focused both on the daily practice of pediatric oncology as well as in critical situations such as those that might involve clinical ethics consultation. Continue reading…

López, Moratalia N. Biology and ethics of bioethics: an urgent need of realism. Cuad Bioet. 2013.
Tenets and recommendations of bioethics should be based on a profound knowledge of biological processes and at the same time deeply integrated with their human significance. Integration has been usually distorted by those implied in disciplines involved with human nature. Biology of fertilization and embryo development have been often fodder of science fiction, when considering that techniques can achieve any aim without acknowledging natural limits, and often handling data, and accepting without any critical attitude pseudoscientific dogma. In the middle of that pseudo-biology bioethics has suffered the onslaught of the ideology of man believing himself autonomous and claiming he is the only one who dictates the rules of reality of world and man, and leading development and progress with this technological power in his hands. The profoundly different response to this deep question of whether what is properly human and essential to each man emerges as a consequence of his own construction and development or, on the contrary, is inherent to the constitution of each man, has caused the splitting of bioethics into two really irreconcilable bioethics. And that because of their different reasoning and criteria. The Ethics of Bioethics requires a new thinking on this crucial point allowing it to grow as an unprejudiced Science. Serious consequences derive from taking one perspective or another. Adopting one or another perspective confronts us with a serious problem. Is human life disposable? Or should it be elegantly preserved? Continue reading…

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Ars Technica

Highfield, Roger. An interview with J Craig Venter, the man who sequenced the human genome. November 10, 2013.
J Craig Venter has been a molecular-biology pioneer for two decades. After developing expressed sequence tags in the 90s, he led the private effort to map the human genome, publishing the results in 2001. In 2010, the J Craig Venter Institute manufactured the entire genome of a bacterium, creating the first synthetic organism. Continue reading…

Timmer, John. With DNA and proteins, researchers build transit for lugging molecular cargo. November 11, 2013.
Humanity is just now beginning to learn how to master construction at the nanometer scale, but biology has been tinkering with this for billions of years. And as we've gotten better at manipulating biological materials, the lines between nanotechnology and synthetic biology are getting rather blurry. Over the weekend, Nature Nanotechnology released a paper that describes tiny biological machinery engineered to construct a transit system and then bring cargo to its hub. Its components? DNA and proteins. Continue reading…

Rathi, Akshat. Meteorite impacts capture time capsules of the ecosystems they destroy. November 13, 2013.
Meteorite impacts can be very destructive. A meteorite that fell in Mexico around 66 million years ago created a 180 km crater and caused the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs while spewing debris and molten rock into the air. Now, in what is a fascinating tale of serendipity, researchers have found that these events don’t entirely destroy all traces of life at the site of impact. Molten rocks can capture and preserve organic matter as they cool down to form glass beads. Continue reading…

Timmer, John. Drug clears up persistent bacteria by getting them to digest themselves. November 13. 2013.
Drug resistant bacteria are, justifiably, a serious cause for concern. Most of the attention has focused on mutations or genes that confer resistance to our current repertoire of antibiotics. But bacteria have a second way to avoid being offed by our drugs: a tiny fraction of many bacterial species will go into a sort of suspended animation. Then, after the treatment is over, a few of these cells will pop back out, setting up the risk of a persistent, recurring infection. Continue reading…

Chicago Tribune

Editorial. Obamacare asks too much of Washington. November 12, 2013.
The Affordable Care Act was supposed to be a great advance in fostering access to medical insurance. It would contain costs, guarantee coverage, simplify consumer shopping and make the entire system more rational. Now that it is being put into practice, however, it's a giant, exasperating mess. Continue reading…

Editorial. Prognosis for Obamacare isn't improving. November 13, 2013.
Fewer than 50,000 people had signed up for Obamacare by late last week in the 36 states that use the federal health care exchange, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is expected to release national numbers this week and they are expected to be underwhelming, too. The administration expected 800,000 would sign up for Obamacare by the end of November. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Hall, Carla. Women speak out: ‘My abortion’ November 13, 2013.
Who has had an abortion? In an intriguing cover story, New York Magazine decided to answer that question with the names, faces and accounts of 26 women from varied backgrounds who have had the procedure. Continue reading…

LeTellier, Alexandra. Obamacare: Don’t be selfish and shortsighted, buy a better plan. November 14, 2013.
In an effort to placate angry (and shortsighted) Americans, President Obama announced Thursday that they could keep their substandard health insurance plans for another year so long as insurers were still willing to offer them. Never mind that these cheaper, bare-bones packages don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum benefits, undercutting a fundamental part of the healthcare law. Continue reading…

Editorial. Kicking Obamacare’s problems down the road. November 15, 2013.
Faced with a growing public backlash to the 2010 healthcare law's insurance reforms, the Obama administration decreed Thursday that consumers should be allowed to keep their current policies for another year, even if the coverage falls short of the law's requirements. The move is a desperate attempt to fulfill a promise President Obama never should have made, and the legal authority for it is sketchy. What's more, it may not be possible at this point for insurers to revive policies they've already canceled. Worst of all, Obama merely punted to next year the fight over the law's insurance reforms, which he has done a remarkably poor job of explaining and selling. The only good thing about the delay is that it might stop Congress from making a more damaging change to the law. Continue reading…

New York Times

Velasquez-Manoff, Moises. A Cure for the Allergy Epidemic? November 9, 2013.
Will the cure for allergies come from the cowshed? Continue reading…

Editorial. High and Low Premiums in Health Care. November 10, 2013.
The debate over the effect the Affordable Care Act will have on individuals and families who buy their own policies has mostly been waged in anecdotes. Supporters of the law point to grateful individuals who were previously unable to get insurance or paid exorbitant premiums but found affordable coverage on the new health insurance exchanges. Critics counter with frustrated people who liked their old policies but will now be forced to buy a more comprehensive policy and pay a higher premium for it. Continue reading…

Chappatte, Patrick. Typhoon Haiyan and the Climate Talks. November 13, 2013.
Pushing for a stronger treaty on climate change, some participants are arguing that global warming is responsible for the strength of the typhoon that struck the Philippines. Continue reading…

Editorial. A New Alliance on Climate Change. November 13, 2013.
In an effort to compensate for the failure of central governments to address the dangers of climate change with comprehensive national policies, cities, states and regions have developed their own strategies to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. California’s ambitious plan aims to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050 by requiring cleaner cars, more energy-efficient buildings and renewable fuels. Nine northeastern states have joined in a regional trading program aimed at reducing power-plant emissions. Continue reading…

Editorial. A Health Care Fix. November 14, 2013.
President Obama has come up with a modern fix for a self-inflicted political wound: his repeated — and wrong — assertions that Americans would be able to keep their health insurance plans if they wanted to under the health care reform law. Continue reading…

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