Ethics

Issues in the Pharmacological Induction of Emotions

In this paper, David Wasserman and I examine issues raised by the possibility of regulating emotions through pharmacological means. We argue that emotions induced through these means can be authentic phenomenologically, and that the manner of inducing them need not make them any less our own than emotions arising “naturally.” We recognize that in taking drugs to induce emotions, one may lose opportunities for self-knowledge; act narcissistically; or treat oneself as a mere means. But we propose that there are circumstances in which none of these concerns arise. Finally, we consider how the possibility of drug-regulation might affect duties to feel emotions. [Journal of Applied Philosophy 25(3) 2008: 178-192] [pdf | html]

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Who Is Afraid of Numbers?

In recent years, many nonconsequentialists such as Frances Kamm and Thomas Scanlon have been puzzling over what has come to be known as the Number Problem, which is how to show that the greater number in a rescue situation should be saved without aggregating the claims of the many, a typical kind of consequentialist move that seems to violate the separateness of persons. In this paper, I argue that these nonconsequentialists may be making the task more difficult than necessary, because allowing aggregation does not prevent one from being a nonconsequentialist. I shall explain how a nonconsequentialist can still respect the separateness of persons while allowing for aggregation. [Utilitas 20(4) 2008: 447-461] [pdf | html]

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The Right of Children to Be Loved

A number of international organizations have claimed that children have a right to be loved, but there is a worry that this claim may just be an empty rhetoric. In this paper, I seek to show that there could be such a right by providing a justification for this right in terms of human rights, by demonstrating that love can be an appropriate object of a duty, and by proposing that biological parents should normally be made the primary bearers of this duty, while all other able persons in appropriate circumstances have the associate duties to help biological parents discharge their duties. I also consider some policy implications of this right. [The Journal of Political Philosophy 14(4) 2006: 420-440] [pdf | html] [ Related Link ]

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Time-Relative Interests and Abortion

The concept of a time-relative interest is introduced by Jeff McMahan to solve certain puzzles about the badness of death. Some people (e.g. McMahan and David DeGrazia) believe that this concept can also be used to show that abortion is permissible. I first argue that if the Time-Relative Interest Account permits abortion, then it would also permit infanticide. I next reject the suggestion that the Time-Relative Interest Account can at least explain the permissibility of early abortion, even if it cannot explain the permissibility of late abortion. Given this, early and late abortions have to be justified on other grounds. [The Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(2) 2007: 242-256] [pdf | html]

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Are ‘Ex Ante’ Enhancements Always Permissible?

Frances Kamm distinguishes between changes or enhancements that are made before a child exists (ex ante changes) and those that are made once a child exists (ex post changes), and she argues that ex ante changes do not show disrespect or, as Michael Sandel would put it, lack of love, for a person, since the person does not yet exist. In this paper, I argue that it is important to distinguish between ex ante enhancements that are morally neutral and those that are morally dubious, and that the latter ones are morally objectionable even if the persons do not yet exist. [The American Journal of Bioethics 5(3) 2005: 23-25] [pdf | html]

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The Embryo Rescue Case

In the debate regarding the moral status of human embryos, the Embryo Rescue Case has been used to suggest that embryos are not rightholders. This case is premised on the idea that in a situation where one has a choice between saving some number of embryos or a child, it seems wrong to save the embryos and not the child. If so, it seems that embryos cannot be rightholders. In this paper, I argue that the Embryo Rescue Case does not independently show that embryos are not rightholders. [Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 27(2) 2006: 141-147] [pdf | html]

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