School of Medical Education

Staff Profile

Jan Deckers

Senior Lecturer in Health Care Ethics

Background

Latest news

Thanks to a grant from the Wellcome Trust, digital versions of Jan’s book ‘Animal (De)liberation. Should the Consumption of Animal Products Be Banned? London: Ubiquity Press, 2016’ can now be read free of charge from http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/bay

A reply to some early reviews can be read in the 2017 thematic issue on philosophy of the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jep.12807/full

 

Broadcasts

- The podcast of the Café Politique talk held on 4 December 2017 at Blackwells (Newcastle) is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPwPuHLByKU

- The film 'Animal (De)liberation: Should the Consumption of Animal Products Be Banned?' was shown for the first time in UK cinemas on 13 January 2017 at Northern Stage, Newcastle, as part of a series of screenings organised by Cinema Politica. It was released publicly on 9 November 2017, at https://vimeo.com/177529077

- 'The morality of angling'. Contribution to the 2017 ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Festival of Social Science. See  https://fishingforanswers.wordpress.com/ (introduction and menu) and direct link for Jan's thoughts on angling: https://fishingforanswers.wordpress.com/2017/09/14/5/

- 'The ethics of in-vitro flesh and enhanced animals': a conference on this theme, convened by Jan and funded by the Wellcome Trust, was held in September 2014. The audio-visual materials were produced by Andy Fanning, Web Development Officer, Learning & Teaching Support Unit, Medical Sciences Faculty Office, Newcastle University. The audio-visual recordings and powerpoint slides can be accessed here: http://interactive.ncl.ac.uk/case/195/1/7/view/

- 'An Introduction to the UK Vegan Project', presented at the Newcastle Animal Ethics and Sustainable Food Policy Conference. A Minding Animals International Pre-conference, Newcastle University. For slides and audio, please visit: http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2011/12/animal-ethics-and-sustainable-food-policy-a-minding-animals-international/

- Talk on the ethics of consuming farmed animal products for BBC 3 Free Thinking Festival, 'Theory Slam' event in the Sage, Gateshead: A condensed version (2 mins) was broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Night Waves, 9 December 2010. It is available on BBC i-player from 38 mins 30 sec. in the programme at www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00wbnxq/Night_Waves_Free_Thinking_2010_The_Joys_of_Failure).

 

Affiliations

Senior lecturer in health care ethics in the School of Medical Education (SME); academic lead for ethics of the Institute for Sustainability; deputy coordinator of the Institute's Justice and Governance Theme; and affiliated with Fuse (Early Life and Adolescence Research Programme), the School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Institute of Health and Society; mentor for the University's Early Careers Mentoring Network (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/fms/postgrad/mentoring)

 

Responsibilities in relation to peer review

Please note that Jan only reviews for journals that adopt a 'wide open access' (WOA) approach. This approach consists in peer-reviewed journals being prepared to publish all articles that survive scientific scrutiny through an appropriate peer-review process, regardless of the author's ability or willingness to pay. Ideally, papers submitted by those authors who cannot or will not pay should also be published as 'open access articles'.  

 

• Associate editor, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

• International Advisory Board member, Diametros: An Online Journal of Philosophy

• Peer reviewer for various journals, including: Journal of Medical Ethics, Bioethics, Developing World Bioethics, Journal of Moral Philosophy, The Monist, Food Policy, Agriculture and Human Values, Animals, Waste and Resource Management, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Global Environmental Change, Public Health Ethics, Journal of Meaning-Centered Education, Journal of Philosophical Research, Journal of Social Philosophy, Sloth.

• Peer reviewer for Palgrave Macmillan.

• Peer reviewer for the Wellcome Trust (research grants)

 

Qualifications

• BA's and MA's in Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Theology (Catholic University of Leuven, 1990-1997)

• PhD (University of St Andrews, dissertation title: ‘The Scientific Basis for an Ecological Ethic in the Context of Process Thought’, 2001)

• Fellow, Higher Education Academy (2013)



  


Research

I. Research interests

Jan's current work is focused on the following issues:  

  • the ethics of providing feedback

  • the ethics of global health impacts

  • the ethics and law of consuming animal products

  • the ethics and law of abortion and embryo research

  • the ethics and law of genetics

  • the ethics of deliberation

 

To access Jan's articles, either use the publications tab or read Jan's own versions of most of his publications, which are freely available via this link:
http://eprint.ncl.ac.uk/author_pubs.aspx?author_id=84981.

 

Jan welcomes enquiries from anyone who is interested in bioethics (including PhD students), particularly from scholars who wish to cooperate on any of these issues.

 

Jan's work is situated within the School of Medical Education, the Public Health and Applied Health Interventions Research Group of the Institute of Health and Society, and the 'Justice and Governance' theme of the Institute for Sustainability (more specifically within the clusters of 'food' and 'health and environment').

 

II. Current work

1. Public health ethics, law, and the consumption of animal products

The GHI (Global Health Impact) concept plays a pivotal role in Jan's bioethical theory. The GHI is a unit of measurement that evaluates the impacts of human actions on the health of all biological organisms. The theory is introduced in an article (Negative 'GHIs', the Right to Health Protection, and Future Generations. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 2011, 8(2), 165-176) wherein Jan argues that the negative GHIs of many people who live today violate the right to health protection of future generations. Consequently, it is argued that many people must reduce their negative GHIs so that they do not exceed their fair share.

Recent work, facilitated by a grant from the Wellcome Trust, focuses on evaluating the positive and negative GHIs on human health associated with the consumption of animal products, partly by comparing novel with more traditional versions. The most extensive treatment is in the book ‘Animal (De)liberation. Should the Consumption of Animal Products Be Banned? London: Ubiquity Press, 2016’, which can be read free of charge from http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/bay

Using the example of Australia, the negative GHIs of the farm animal sector in relation to obesity are examined in: Obesity, Public Health, and the Consumption of Animal Products. Ethical Concerns and Political Solutions. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 2013, 10(1), 29-38.

The negative GHIs of the sector in relation to human hunger are explored in: Does the consumption of farmed animal products cause human hunger?. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition 2011, 6(3), 353-377.

The negative GHIs of the sector in relation to human disease are examined in: Could some people be wronged by contracting swine flu? A case discussion on the links between the farm animal sector and human disease. Journal of Medical Ethics 2011, 37(6), 354-356.

The negative GHIs of the sector in relation to climate change and a range of other environmental issues are the subject of two further papers: Should the consumption of farmed animal products be restricted, and if so, by how much?. Food Policy 2010, 35 (6), 497-503; Justice, Negative GHIs, and the Consumption of Farmed Animal Products. Journal of Global Ethics 2011, 7(2), 205-216

Last but not least, the policy options that are available to curtail the negative GHIs associated with the consumption of farmed animal products are discussed in: What Policy Should Be Adopted to Curtail the Negative GHIs Associated with the Consumption of Farmed Animal Products?. Res Publica 2010, 16(1), 57-72.

 

2. The ethics and law of embryo research

The paper 'An Analysis of the Arguments Underpinning UK Embryonic Stem Cell Legislation on the Embryo’s Status' (Journal of Stem Cells 2007, 2 (1) 47-62) presents Jan's most comprehensive account on the debate on embryonic stem cell research. It engages directly, and comprehensively, with the arguments on the status of the embryo that have been used in UK Parliament and in the reports published by their chief advisors in the debate on embryonic stem cell research preceding the introduction of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001. The article has been reprinted, and is available from http://tinyurl.com/pws6coy

 

3. The ethics and law of abortion

A paper with the title 'The right to life and abortion legislation in England and Wales: A proposal for change' was published in Diametros (2010, 26, 1-22). It proposes amending the law on abortion in England and Wales. It can be accessed here: http://tinyurl.com/pvbhsxg

 

4. The ethics of deliberation

In a project on 'Deliberating the Environment: Scientists and the Socially Excluded in Dialogue' (funded by ESRC Science in Society Programme; Project team: Derek Bell, Mary Brennan, Jan Deckers, Tim Gray, Nicola Thompson) we explored the potential of a novel institutional mechanism, the ‘deliberative exchange’, to facilitate mutual learning between two disparate social groups. We defined a ‘deliberative exchange’ as a one-to-one deliberation between two persons from different social groups facilitated by a researcher in which the participants work collaboratively to consider and address important ethical and policy issues. In a pilot study, the participants were persons from low income households and academic scientists. Each participant participated in a series of deliberative exchanges in which he or she was invited to discuss different environmental issues. The project had two related aims. Firstly, to explore the potential of the deliberative exchange as a method for facilitating and studying mutual learning between individuals with different backgrounds and experience. Secondly, to study the process of deliberation between persons from low-income households and academic scientists and the effects that such deliberation has on the participants.

 

III. Postgraduate supervision

Jan is an Associate Fellow of the Graduate School of the Faculty of Medical Sciences. Together with Derek Bell (Politics), Jan supervised a PhD project by Cristina Fernandez-Garcia on the ethical issues associated with human genetic enhancement. Cristina completed this project successfully in 2018.

 

IV. Information about the conference: The Ethics of In-Vitro Flesh and Enhanced Animals

1. General information

This international conference was held on 18-19 September 2014. It was chaired by Jan Deckers (School of Medical Education, Newcastle University) and sponsored by the Wellcome Trust. The location for the event was the Rothbury Golf Club (Northumberland, England). Speakers’ abstracts are provided below. The audio-visual materials were produced by Andy Fanning, Web Development Officer, Learning & Teaching Support Unit, Medical Sciences Faculty Office, Newcastle University. The audio-visual recordings and powerpoint slides can be accessed here:

http://interactive.ncl.ac.uk/case/195/1/7/view/

 

2. Conference abstracts and audio-visual materials

2.1. Jan Deckers

Welcome and introduction

The consumption of animal products has received increasing bioethical scrutiny for a number of reasons. These include rising levels of obesity, environmental degradation, climate change, zoonotic disease, and moral concerns with the treatment of animals. A novel technology that is being developed, partly to address some of these concerns, is the production of ‘in vitro flesh’ or ‘cultured flesh’, which relies on the isolation of animals’ stem cells and their stimulation into growth in laboratories. This project has already led to the creation of the world’s first in vitro burger, eaten in London on 5 August 2013. Other methods to reduce some of these concerns rely on the modification of farmed animals, either by means of conventional or new (genetic) breeding technologies. For example, some animals have been created with reduced capacities to experience pain, including blind chickens, and various novel technologies are being used to create animals with particular benefits, for example reduced levels of saturated fats, that could be beneficial for the human beings who consume them. This welcoming address introduces the topic of this conference.

2.2. Cor van der Weele and Clemens Driessen:

Workshop: Cultured meat and hidden moral concerns: on pathways of transition

The goal of this workshop is to define and compare different pathways of “protein transition”.

In our introduction, we will report on focus group discussions on cultured meat, which show that moral concerns about meat are widespread, also among people who on the surface seem to be happy as meat eaters.  Our findings suggest that many of these people are ambivalent about meat consumption and that they put their hopes for solutions on collective rather than individual changes.

Such ambivalent concerns and hopes are typically not credited with much moral interest. But what if we take them seriously? What difference might that make, for example, for our views about pathways of protein transition?

As a next step, we propose to make a joint effort (with all participants) to define and discuss our assumptions on pathways of change. A typology of pathways might be the outcome of this workshop.

2.3. Linnea Laestadius

Public perceptions of the ethics of in-vitro flesh: What are the implications for development and promotion?

While in-vitro flesh (IVF) is not yet commercially available, the public has already begun to form opinions of IVF as a result of news stories and events drawing attention to its development. As such, we can discern public perceptions of the ethics of IVF prior to its commercial release. This affords advocates of environmentally sustainable, healthy, and just diets with a unique opportunity to reflect on the desirability of the development of IVF, as well as potential modifications that could be made to improve its acceptance. This presentation draws upon an analysis of public perceptions of IVF in 814 U.S. news blog comments related to the August 2013 tasting of the world’s first IVF hamburger. Specifically, I address three primary questions: 1) How does the public perceive the ethics of IVM development and consumption? 2) What do these perceptions mean for the viability and desirability of developing IVF as a solution to high levels of conventional animal flesh consumption? and 3) What do these perceptions mean for strategies to promote IVF? Through these questions, areas for future research are also highlighted.

2.4. Bernice Bovenkerk

How to articulate objections to ‘enhanced properties’?

Responding to societal objections to the animal suffering resulting from meat prodcution, scientists have proposed the creation of animals with reduced sentience. Even if this could take away welfare problems, one could still ask whether this is a desirable solution that would be accepted by society. Many people object to interfering in animal lives, for example through genetic engineering. In societal discussions, such objections to ‘tampering’ with animal species figure largely, but remain unarticulated. In my view, traditional approaches in animal ethics with their focus on individuals cannot adequately articulate or justify with these objections. As the modification takes place before the animal is born, utilitarian or deontological accounts have difficulty pinpointing the problem. The objections seem to focus on our interference with a species rather than individual animal. Moreover, they seem to focus on our role as humans and what such interferences say about us as one species between the species. I will argue that animal ethics needs a new new perspective that focuses on 1) species as well as individual and 2) the question what our actions mean for our relationships to other species and in turn for our self-understanding as human beings (connecting to philosophical anthropology).

2.5. Lars Øystein Ursin

The ontology of meat

The double separation of animals from humans and meat from animals has in the 20th century been accompanied by a growing concern with animal welfare. These new views and valuations  on animals and meat has taken place alongside an exponential growth in the world’s population and a steady growth in the meat consumption per capita, that has led to an enormous growth in the world’s population of livestock. This has led to an unresolved ethical tension for modern carnivores: Meat is nutritionally beneficial and tasteful, but comes with an unpleasant ethical after-taste. The promise of cultured meat is to remove such a gnawing moral doubt by means of technological innovation. Critics of cultured meat argue that its promotion would be restricted to a mitigation of some unpleasant symptoms of the flawed modernist way of relating to nature, animals and food. It is deeply problematic to aim for an escape from our past and traditions in hunting and farming animals for their meat.  We should rather be concerned with and proud of our place in nature as bodily beings in complex interaction with other species, and reflect on the proper – limited – scope of justice in nature. In this paper I will reflect on the ontology of meat in light of the ethos of cultured meat.

2.6. G. Owen Schaefer

Overcoming the ‘yuck’ factor: the ethical need for an in vitro meat marketing campaign

While the development of in vitro meat is in its infancy, there is some reason to expect it to eventually become a marketable product.  Ethical vegetarians should rejoice at this prospect, as it would allow a wide swathe of the population to consume their desired meat products without the degree of animal death and suffering (not to mention environmental damage) associated with factory farming.  However, there is a major impediment to general market uptake: general reluctance to eat lab-grown meat.  A recent Pew poll found that, in the US, only 20% of those surveyed would be willing to eat in vitro meat.  This implies it would be relegated to a niche market akin to current meat substitute products.  Those concerned with animal suffering and the environment should hope for much greater market penetration.  Ideally, every McDonald’s would use in vitro meat patties – but this requires much greater public willingness to eat the lab-grown burgers.  To this end, there is strong ethical reason for animal welfare and environmental organizations to devote resources to marketing and lobbying campaigns aimed at ‘normalizing’ in vitro meat and inducing public interest in its consumption.

2.7. Amanda Cawston

In vitro meat: a problem dressed up as a solution

The development of in vitro or synthetic meat promises a future of genuinely cruelty free meat, offering a way out for those who are concerned about animal welfare but crave those chicken nuggets.  Critics argue that if one is concerned about eating meat (e.g. because of concerns regarding animal welfare, health, environmental issues, etc.), a ready solution already exists: simply abstain from eating it.    However, supporters of in vitro meat counter that widespread abstention is at best a far-off goal and, in the meantime, in vitro meat would prevent much non-human animal suffering and hence should be supported on these pragmatic grounds – in vitro meat might not be the ideal solution, but it is better than simply advocating wholesale vegetarianism.  In this paper, I take issue with this pragmatic argument for in vitro meat.  While I agree that there is a simplistic sense in which in vitro meat would be better for non-human animals (because it reduces their suffering), in vitro meat as a commodity is significantly ethically problematic.  Particularly, the development and celebration of in vitro meat risks co-opting the growing awareness of the ethical problems of insatiable and unnecessary consumption: it transforms these anti-consumerist concerns into support for a new product to consume.

2.8. Alexandra Sexton

This session is presented by audience member Alexandra Sexton who volunteered to give an overview of her research due to a late change in the programme. Currently a PhD student in Geography at King’s College London, her work explores the biopolitical implications of cultured flesh and edible insects in relation to global food security.

The focus of her talk was a paper she presented at a recent conference in New Zealand which examined the role of design in the ‘edibility formation’ of cultured meat and edible insects. Both of these novel foods are currently being developed as food security solutions due to their potential of providing more sustainable, ethical and healthier forms of protein for human consumption. Previous research has shown, however, that despite the claimed merits of novel food solutions, much more is often required in order for consumers to accept a product as an ‘edible’ alternative (i.e. viewing it as ‘food’). Her work explores how consumer perceptions of ‘edibility’ are in fact constructed and dependent on particular elements in the food supply chain; furthermore it examines how design – of both the eating environment and the food itself – plays a particularly integral role in this process. It is argued that understanding these processes will form a crucial part in overcoming the ‘yuck factor’ of cultured meat and edible insects and in establishing these novel foods as mainstream meat alternatives.

2.9. Arianna Ferrari

Saving animals through technology? Ethical and political reflections on in-vitro meat

In-vitro meat has been occupying the imaginary of natural and social scientists, ethicists as well as some animal welfare and animal rights scholars for a good decade. Through the advancement of tissue engineering and stem-cell research scientists have succeeded to create processed meat products using muscle cells from cows. In-vitro meat holds the promise to save nonhuman animals from suffering and death, to massively reduce the ecological footprint of animal food production, and, at the same time, to allow humans to continue enjoying the taste of meat. However, around this almost perfect “technological fix” there are many ethical and political questions which remain largely undiscussed, such as for example: how will nonhuman animals be kept and treated in order to gain the necessary cells to build in-vitro tissues? Is in-vitro meat really a way to overcome animal exploitation? What is the rationale behind investing large resources for the development and commercialization of in-vitro meat instead of distributing more information around plant-based food and investing in ways of rendering it possible worldwide? My contribution aims to disentangle the normative values in which the research and development of in-vitro meat are embedded.

2.10. John Miller

Being-with Sub-Organisms: Art, Affect and Cultured Flesh.

As tissue culturing technologies continue to advance, it has become increasingly clear that the world is now inhabited by a growing number of entities with an ambiguous relationship to established taxonomic frames. Even before in-vitro meat (IVM) reaches commercial availability, the biomass of animal tissue living outside of conventional bodies has been estimated at several million tons. Ethical debates surrounding IVM’s emergence often focus on its possible environmental and health benefits (reduced carbon emissions and land-use, lower-fat ‘meat’ et cetera), or on the liberation of animals from violent food production practices.  Less attention has been paid, however, to how we might categorise and relate to a new generation of ‘sub-organisms’.  What does it mean to share the world with so much insentient flesh? Are the ‘semi-living’ themselves (and not just the animals from which they are derived) worthy of ethical consideration? Since the late 1990s, the artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr have been interrogating these (and related) questions in their Tissue Culture and Art Project with installations including Tissue Culture and Art(ificial) Womb (2000), Victimless Leather (2004) and NoArk (2007). Exploring these ‘tissue engineered sculptures’ in relation to the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, this paper investigates the role of experimental art in imagining the new ethical terrain demanded by cultured flesh. 

2.11. Jan Deckers

In the final session the discussion returned to the moral relevance of the concept of ‘naturalness’ in the debate on in vitro flesh and the (dis)enhancement of animals. Without denying the view that all that exists is part of nature, it was argued that things can be situated on a spectrum between the natural and the unnatural, and that the distinction cannot be made satisfactorily unless the concept of ‘teleology’ is introduced, where decisions about where things fall along the spectrum is determined by the extent to which they are designed externally. The moral relevance of this was discussed in relation to the example of the aurochs, the Chillingham herd, Holstein cows used in the dairy industry, and Herman, the first genetically modified bull. It was argued that we ought to adopt a prima facie duty to abstain from genetic modification and the production of in vitro flesh technologies to safeguard the positive value of protecting nature’s integrity, and that this duty must be balanced with any conflicting duties that may come into play.



 


 

 

Teaching

Undergraduate Teaching

MBBS: Ethics (e.g.: Ethics and Genetics, Common Ethical Issues, Impaired Newborn, Confidentiality, Truth Telling, Ethics of CPR, Autonomy at the End of Life, Unborn Human Life, Errors, Transplantation) and Communication Skills and other aspects of Personal and Professional Development (e.g.: Introduction to Communication Skills, Active listening, Critical Appraisal Skills, Gathering Information, Valuing Diversity, Critical Appraisal of Pharmaceutical Literature).

MPharm

CMB 1006: Practical Skills in Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences

CMB 2000: Essential Biomedical Research Skills

BMS 3022: Bioethics

 

Postgraduate Teaching

MMB 8100: Research Skills and Principles for the Biosciences

HSC 8040: Health and Health Care Policy (for MSc in Public Health and Health Services Research and MSc in Social Science and Health Research students)

MCR 8001: Research Governance and Ethics

ONC 8008: Ethical Dimensions of Cancer/Palliative Care

HSS 8010: Research Ethics in a Wider Context (Postgraduate and postdoctoral students at Universities of Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham, Teesside, and Sunderland)

Various workshops for postgraduate students: on 'Introduction to Bioethics' (Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School training programme); and on 'Personal and Professional Ethics' and 'Environmental Ethics' (Faculty of Science, Agriculture, and Engineering Graduate School; Postgraduate researcher development programme)

CPD Staff Development Unit: Ethics of Research and Research Supervision

 

Some pedagogic aids

The following list of questions has been developed to provide learning aids that might help those who wish to use some of Jan’s writings (available via the ‘Research’ tab) in educational contexts (tertiary and secondary education).

 

Ideas have been organised around three themes:

 

A. the consumption of animal products

B. embryo research and abortion

C. genetics.

 

A. THE CONSUMPTION OF ANIMAL PRODUCTS

 

In relation to: Should the consumption of farmed animal products be restricted, and if so, by how much? Food Policy 2010, 35(6) 497-503:

1. What will be the relative share of greenhouse gas emissions from the farm animal sector if data are extrapolated from recent studies to the year 2050?
2. How could sustainability indicators help to address the moral question of whether the consumption of farmed animal products should be restricted?
3. Why might it not be sufficient to rely on sustainability indicators alone to address the question of this article?
4. How is the concept of ‘externality’ defined and what does a case study from the UK show about the externalities associated with the different diets that are compared?

 

In relation to: What Policy Should Be Adopted to Curtail the Negative GHIs Associated with the Consumption of Farmed Animal Products? Res Publica 2010, 16(1), 57-72:

1. How is the concept of negative GHI defined? What is the benefit of having such a concept?
2. Why might a total ban on the consumption of farmed animal products not be acceptable?
3. What are the benefits and the disadvantages of the option to raise the prices of farmed animal products?
4. What is your view about the argument for a qualified ban?

 

In relation to: Vegetarianism, Sentimental or Ethical? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 2009, 22(6), 573-597:

1. Why might some people think that vegetarians are sentimental?
2. Should there be a place for sentiments in ethics?
3. What might be good reasons to adopt vegetarianism in some situations? Why might some vegetarians be inconsistent?
4. Why might even vegan diets demand that some animals are killed in some situations?

 

B. EMBRYO RESEARCH AND ABORTION

 

In relation to: An Analysis of the Arguments Underpinning UK Embryonic Stem Cell Legislation on the Embryo's Status. In: Koka, PS, ed. Stem Cell Research Progress. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2008, pp. 59-80:

1. What is the name of the report that helped to shape the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, and what do you think of its claims?
2. Should young human embryos be used for research on the basis of the view that they may not be able to feel pain?
3. Should young human embryos be granted moral status?
4. What are the eight arguments used by members of Parliament and their advisory bodies to justify extending embryo research around the turn of the century? Do you agree with them?

 

In relation to: Are those who subscribe to the view that early embryos are persons irrational and inconsistent? A reply to Brock. Journal of Medical Ethics 2007, 33(2), 102-106:

1. Define moral absolutism, moral relativism, and Pyrrhonian moral scepticism?
2. Which of these positions do you favour, and why?
3. Are those who subscribe to ‘the F view’ irrational?
4. What are the arguments that have been developed to counter Brock’s claim that ‘the F view’ is inconsistent?

 

In relation to: Why two arguments from probability fail and one argument from Thomson's analogy of the violinist succeeds in justifying embryo destruction in some situations. Journal of Medical Ethics 2007, 33(3), 160-164:

1. How has the claim that it is highly probable that little embryos will die early been used in debates about embryo research, and what do you think about the claim?
2. What is meant by the ‘Embryonic Stem Cell Lottery’? Do you think the argument justifies embryo research?
3. What are the arguments developed to counter the claim that early embryos are like lottery tickets?
4. Which argument about a famous violinist did Thomson develop, and how is the argument used here?

 

In relation to: Why current UK legislation on embryo research is immoral. How the argument from lack of qualities and the argument from potentiality have been applied and why they should be rejected. Bioethics 2005, 19(3), 251-271:

1. What do you think about the House of Lords’ Select Committee’s attempts to justify embryo research?
2. What is meant by ‘sentience’? Do you think sentience is relevant to determine moral status?
3. Describe the four arguments from potentiality that are discussed? What do you think of them?
4. What is ‘egalitarian speciesism’? Do you agree with it?

 

C. GENETICS

 

In relation to: Are scientists right and non-scientists wrong? Reflections on discussions of GM. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 2005, 18(5), 451-478:

1. What are the arguments that UK policy-makers and policy advisors used to reject the view that GM is unnatural? What do you think of these?
2. Why did some interviewees reject the view that GM is unnatural?
3. Why did some interviewees hold the view that GM is unnatural?
4. Do you think that the benefits associated with GM technologies are significant enough to endorse these technologies?

 

In relation to the genetics contextualised scenario: the case of ‘Mark and Katie’ (human genetics) See www.prs.heacademy.ac.uk/view.html/prsdocuments/50

1. If you are a geneticist or a GP, what is the dilemma in relation to carrier identification (theme 1)?
2. What are the ethical issues raised by pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and human reproductive cloning (theme 2)?
3. What are the ethical issues raised by amniocentesis (and other methods that aim to establish a prenatal diagnosis) (theme 3)?
4. What are the ethical issues associated with embryonic stem cell research (theme 4)?

 


 

Publications