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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 32, Issue Supplement, 2007
Ethics and the Life Sciences

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Displaying: 1-20 of 29 documents

1. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Frederick Adams

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2. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Catherine M. Klein

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The creation of transgenic animals has application in the following areas of pharmaceutical and biomedical research: the production of biopharmaceuticals for human use; the production of organs for xenotransplantation; and the generation of animal models for human genetic diseases. Nuclear transfer technology offers a more precise and efficient way of performing genetic modification and creating transgenic animals than the more traditional method of pronuclear microinjection. This paper will review nuclear transfer as ameans of producing transgenic animals; introduce advantages nuclear transfer technology offers in the field of animal transgenesis; and highlight some of the animal welfare issues and ethical concerns raised by the generation and use of transgenic animals in the aforementioned fields of study. Finally, the influence of objectifying language and terminology used to describe transgenic animals will be considered, and the impact of phrases such as “living bioreactor” and “spare part supplier” examined.
3. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Roger Wertheimer

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Animal protectionists condemn speciesism for motivating the practices protectionists condemn. This misconceives both speciesism and the morality condoning those practices. Actually, animal protectionists can be and generally are speciesists. The specifically speciesist aspects of people’s beliefs are in principle compatible with all but the most radical protectionist proposals. Humanity’s speciesism is an inclusivist ideal encompassing all human beings, not an exclusionary ethos opposing moral concern for nonhumans. Anti-speciesist rhetoric is akin to anti-racist rhetoric that condemned racists for regarding people as moral inferiors because of their skincolor. Actually, racists never thought that skin color is itself a reason for discounting someone’s interests, just as humans have never thought that only a human can be a proper object of moral concern. Some speciesists have great concern for animal suffering; some don’t. Animal protectionists have yet to show that a lack of concern is due to some false assumptions.
4. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
David Detmer

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“Moral vegetarianism,” the doctrine that it is immoral to eat meat, is widely dismissed as eccentric. But I argue that moral vegetarianism is thoroughly conservative—it follows directly from two basic moral principles that nearly everyone already accepts. One is that it is morally wrong to cause unnecessary pain. The other is that if it is wrong in one case to do X, then it will also be wrong to do so in another, unless the two cases differ in some morally relevant respect. Since everyone agrees that it is wrong to kill humans for food,this principle entails that defenders of meat eating must find some morally relevant difference between eating humans and eating other animals if they are to justify their practice. I argue that this burden cannot be met. Finally, I offer four arguments against the claim that the moral permissibility of eating meat is intuitively evident.
5. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Nathan Nobis

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Many people involved in the life sciences and related fields and industries routinely cause mice, rats, dogs, cats, primates and other non-human animals to experience pain, suffering, and an early death, harming these animals greatly and not for their own benefit. Harms, however, require moral justification, reasons that pass critical scrutiny. Animal experimenters and dissectors might suspect that strong moral justification has been given for this kind of treatment of animals. I survey some recent attempts to provide such a justification and show that they do not succeed: they provide no rational defense of animal experimentation and related activities. Thus, the need for a rational defense of animal experimentation remains.
6. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Robert Streiffer

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Experiments involving the transplantation of human stem cells and their derivatives into early fetal or embryonic nonhuman animals raise novel ethical issues due to their possible implications for enhancing the moral status of the chimeric individual. Although status-enhancing research is not necessarily objectionable from the perspective of the chimeric individual, there are grounds for objecting to it in the conditions in which it is likely to occur. Translating this ethical conclusion into a policy recommendation, however, iscomplicated by the fact that substantial empirical and ethical uncertainties remain about which transplants, if any, would significantly enhance the chimeric individual’s moral status. Considerations of moral status justify either an early-termination policy on chimeric embryos, or, in the absence of such a policy, restrictions on the introduction of pluripotent human stem cells into early-stage developing animals, pending the resolution of those uncertainties.


7. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Steve Vanderheiden

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The phenomenon of anthropogenic climate change—in which weather patterns and attendant ecological disruption result from increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere through human activities—challenges several conventional assumptions regarding moral responsibility. Multifarious individual acts and choices contribute (often imperceptibly) to the causal chain that is expected to produce profound and lasting harm unless significant mitigation efforts begin soon. Attributing responsibility for such harmful consequences is complicated by what Derek Parfit terms “mistakes in moral mathematics,” or failures to correctly assess the various individual contributions to collectively produced harm. Combined with the difficulties in attributingresponsibility to agents for spatially and temporally distant harmful effects and that of holding agents culpable for effects (resulting from socially-acceptable acts) about which they may be ignorant, this paper attempts to sort out several ethical problems surrounding the identification of responsible parties contributing to climate change.
8. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Gerald J. Kauffman

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Water is a finite resource held in common by the community yet coveted by individuals and special interests. The water management field is filled with disputes about water allocation, rights, and pollution. Environmental ethics is a basis for equitable water policy making in Delaware. The resource allocation dilemma is examined in relation to conflicting objectives imposed by a market economy between individual self-interests and community environmental well being. Two forms of water law are practiced in the USA—eastern riparianrights and western prior appropriation. Both forms seek an ethical balance to resolve conflicts and protect individual water rights while protecting downstream users (the common good). Delaware Valley case studies discuss how environmental ethics can help the water policy specialist make difficult decisions during conflicts. Surveys polls indicate that 81 percent have values supportive of a balance between the economy and environment, or pro-environment, indicating that an environmental ethic is central to decisions concerning water policy.


9. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Matthew Lister

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The debate over the use of genetically-modified (GM) crops is one where the heat to light ratio is often quite low. Both proponents and opponents of GM crops often resort more to rhetoric than argument. This paper attempts to use Philip Kitcher’s idea of a “well-ordered science” to bring coherence to the debate. While I cannot, of course, here decide when and where, if at all, GM crops should be used I do show how Kitcher’s approach provides a useful framework in which to evaluate the desirability of using GM crops. At the least Kitcher’s approach allows us to see that the current state of research in to, and use of, GM crops is very far from the ideal of a well-ordered science and gives us a goal to work towards if we wish to achieve a more well-ordered agricultural policy.
10. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Jennifer Welchman

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Genetically modified food crops have been called ‘frankenfoods’ since 1992. Although some might dismiss the phenomena as clever marketing by anti-GM groups, of no philosophic interest, its resonance with the general public suggests otherwise. I argue that examination of the intersection of popular conceptions of monsters, nature, and food at which ‘frankenfood’ stands reveals significant and disturbing trends in our relationship to organic nature of interest to moral and social philosophy and to environmental ethics.
11. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
J. Robert Loftis

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I claim that differences in the importance attached to economic liberty are more important in debates over the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture than disagreements about the precautionary principle. I will argue this point by considering a case study: the decision by the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to grant nonregulated status to Roundup Ready soy. I will show that the unregulated release of this herbicide-resistant crop would not be acceptable morally unless one places a very high premium on economic liberty. This is true even if one takes a sound science attitude to unknown risks, rather than a precautionary attitude. I concede that it may not have been within APHIS’s legislative mandate to regulate Roundup Ready soy further, but for those of us who do not put a high premium on economic liberty, this only calls for extending regulatory oversight of GMOs.
12. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Whiton S. Paine, Mary Lou Galantino

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In the next few years, biotechnology will continue to develop a wide variety of functional foods, foods whose benefits go well beyond basic nutrition. Minors are a major potential market for bioengineered foods that are promoted not as sustaining health but rather as supporting desired lifestyles through the enhancement of physical, athletic, intellectual, or social performance. The experience of other industries suggests that such biomarketing is likely to create a variety of highly public ethical controversies. After a discussion of some of these potential issues, suggestions on how companies and industries can work with marketing ethicists and child advocates to limitnegative impacts on children and youth are presented. That discussion includes a preliminarily analysis of some of the considerations that should be involved in the initial development of a model of biomarketing ethics and in the use of that model to prevent ethical abuses.
13. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
David Kaplan

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A “functional food” is a food-based product that provides a demonstrable physiological benefit beyond its dietary or nutritional value. This class of foods for specific health uses are designed to assist in the prevention or treatment of disease, or to enhance and improve human capacities. They include products like vitamin-fortified grains, energy bars, low-fat or low-sodium foods, and sports drinks. Three sets of concerns about functional foods deserve attention. 1) Their health benefits are greatly exaggerated and, in many cases, non-existent; practical questions remain about their efficacy. 2) Their medicinal properties blur the boundaries between food and drugs; public health questions remain about their appropriate use, distribution, and regulation. 3) Their proliferation is fueled by the food industry, not by the medical profession; political questions remain about the role of market forces that too often benefit producers more than consumers.
14. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Dane Scott

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One common method of criticizing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is to label them as “magic bullets.” However, this criticism, like many in the debate over GMOs, is not very clear. What exactly is the “magic bullet criticism”? What are its origins? What flaw is it pointing out in GM crops and agricultural biotechnology? What is the scope of the criticism? Does it apply to all GMOs, or just some? Does it point to a fatal flaw, or something that can be fixed? The goal of this paper is to answer these questions and clarify the magic bullet criticism of agricultural biotechnology. It is hoped that the results of this exercise will be helpful in advancing deliberationover the role GMOs and agricultural biotechnology should play in twenty-first-century agriculture.
15. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Christina Piña

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Blaming the individual for poor dietary habits is much easier than changing the social structure. Although society frequently assumes that the individual is able to select a particular diet amongst an array of choices, this research shows that the societal structure has quite a determinative role. This research focuses on malnutrition in Mexico and the sociopolitical and economic histories that have contributed to and maintained Mexicans’ unhealthy status. The findings of this research support Weber’s and Bourdieu’s theories describing how individuals’ choices are limited by the societal structure. With this framework in mind, resolutions include fortification,supplementation, and education. From exploratory questionnaires, Mexicans living in Monterrey showed great interest in education. This suggests a starting point for further inquiry and gives insight into possible methods of attacking malnutrition. However, effective policy changes require committed political support to ensure both short-term and long-term success.

human health

16. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Fritz Allhoff

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Genetic interventions raise a host of moral issues and, of its various species, germ-line genetic enhancement is the most morally contentious. This paper surveys various arguments against germ-line enhancement and attempts to demonstrate their inadequacies. A positive argument is advanced in favor of certain forms of germ-line enhancements, which holds that they are morally permissible if and only if they augment Rawlsian primary goods, either directly or by facilitating their acquisition.
17. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Fritz Allhoff

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In search of a potential problem with cloning, I investigate the phenomenon of telomere shortening which is caused by cell replication; clones created from somatic cells will have shortened telomeres and therefore reach a state of senescence more rapidly. While genetic intervention might fix this problem at some point in the future, I ask whether, absent technological advances, this biological phenomenon undermines the moral permissibility of cloning.
18. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Gregor Damschen, Dieter Schönecker

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Suppose a fire broke out in a fertility clinic. One had time to save either a young girl, or a tray of ten human embryos. Would it be wrong to save the girl? According to Michael Sandel, the moral intuition is to save the girl; what is more, one ought to do so, and this demonstrates that human embryos do not possess full personhood, and hence deserve only limited respect and may be killed for medical research. We will argue, however, that no relevant ethical implications can be drawn from the thought experiment. It demonstrates neither that one always ought to let the embryos die, nor does it allow for any general conclusion concerning the moral status of human embryos.
19. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
Katherin A. Rogers

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The possibility of cloning human beings raises the difficult question: Which human lives have value and deserve legal protection? Current cloning legislation tries to hide the problem by illegitimately renaming the entities and processes in question. The Delaware cloning bill, (SB55 2003/2004) for example, permits and protects the creation of human embryos by cloning, as long as they will be destroyed for research and therapeutic purposes, but it adopts terminology which renders its import unclear. I show that, in the case of cloning legislation, the burden of proof is on those who would adopt new terminology, and it has not been met.
20. Journal of Philosophical Research: Volume > 32 > Issue: Supplement
David K. Chan

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Philosophical problems with the concept of wronging someone in bringing the person into existence, especially the non-identity problem, have been much discussed in connection with forms of assisted reproduction that carry risks of harms either greater than or not otherwise present in natural reproduction. In this essay, I discuss the meaning of claims of wrongful life, distinguishing them from claims of wrongful disability. Attempts to conceptualize wrongful disability in terms of either the harmed existence of the offspring, or the possibility of less harmful alternatives, are found unsatisfactory. A contractualist approach that provides an account of wronging that is independent of harming is considered. Finally, I present a new approach that necessitates an account of reasons for procreation that could justify harm to the offspring. These reasons are not the kind that require or prohibit actions of certain types, but refl ect what theagent sees as intrinsically valuable in acting.