(1/40) Psychosocial aspects of abortion. A review of issues and needed research.
The literature on psychosocial aspects of abortion is confusing. Individual publications must be interpreted in the context of cultural, religious, and legal constraints obtaining in a particular society at a given time, with due attention to the status and availability of alternatives to abortion that might be chosen by a woman with an "unwanted" pregnancy. A review of the literature shows that, where careful pre- and post-abortion assessments are made, the evidence is that psychological benefit commonly results, and serious adverse emotional sequelae are rare. The outcome of refused abortion seems less satisfactory, with regrets and distress frequently occurring. Research on the administration of abortion services suggests that counselling is often of value, that distress is frequently caused by delays in deciding upon and in carrying out abortions, and by unsympathetic attitudes of service providers. The phenomenon of repeated abortion seeking should be seen in the context of the availability and cost of contraception and sterilization. The place of sterilization with abortion requires careful study. A recommendation is made for observational descriptive research on populations of women with potentially unwanted pregnancies in different cultures, with comparisons of management systems and an evaluation of their impact on service users. (+info)
(2/40) Hunter-gatherer human nature and health system safety: an evolutionary cleft stick?
The stunning archaeological find of a new species of human dubbed the hobbit, formally named Homo floresiensis, is a reminder that humans and hobbits are evolved for transient lives, subsisting in an environment radically different from that of contemporary societies. Although the problems facing health systems are well documented, few scholars have taken an evolutionary-level approach to understanding them. By considering the nature of humans as adapted not for modern societies but for hunter-gatherer existence, and examining what humans were evolved for, new light can be shed on contemporary behaviours exposed by the medical inquiries into what is going wrong in acute health systems. Investigation of two of these inquiries shows how health professionals under pressure typically default to tribal behaviours, have recourse to hierarchies and engage in turf protection routines. Those who have conducted studies into iatrogenic harm or presided over the medical inquiries have argued that culture change is the solution to health care's ills. This is likely to be much harder to institute than some people realize, especially given our underlying hunter-gatherer nature. This is an evolutionary cleft stick that has not been factored in by those optimistic about health sector reform. The implications are that we need a deep understanding of human nature in addressing health system problems and to recognize that profound culture change is more challenging than many believe. Paradoxically, it is when humans are faced with seemingly intractable problems that a collective way forward might emerge. (+info)
(3/40) Sinning against nature: the theory of background conditions.
Debates about the moral and political acceptability of particular sexual practices and new technologies often include appeals to a supposed imperative to follow nature. If nature is understood as the totality of all phenomena or as those things that are not artificial, there is little prospect of developing a successful argument to impugn interference with it or sinning against it. At the same time, there are serious difficulties with approaches that seek to identify "proper" human functioning. An alternative approach is to understand interference with nature as acting in a manner that threatens basic background conditions to human choice. Arguably, the theory of background conditions helps explain much of the hostility to practices and technologies that allegedly sin against nature. The theory does not, however, entail that appeals to nature are relevant or rational. Such appeals should be subjected to sceptical scrutiny. Indeed, the theory suggests that arguments against practices and technologies that can be seen as contrary to nature sometimes exercise a psychological attraction that is disproportional to their actual cogency. (+info)
(4/40) Visual perception and neural correlates of novel 'biological motion'.
Studies of biological motion have identified specialized neural machinery for the perception of human actions. Our experiments examine behavioral and neural responses to novel, articulating and non-human 'biological motion'. We find that non-human actions are seen as animate, but do not convey body structure when viewed as point-lights. Non-human animations fail to engage the human STSp, and neural responses in pITG, ITS and FFA/FBA are reduced only for the point-light versions. Our results suggest that STSp is specialized for human motion and ventral temporal regions support general, dynamic shape perception. We also identify a region in ventral temporal cortex 'selective' for non-human animations, which we suggest processes novel, dynamic objects. (+info)
(5/40) From the patient's point of view: medical ethics and the moral imagination.
This paper concerns the difficulties of imagining the subjective point of view of another human being, and the relevance of these difficulties to medical decisions. It explores especially the difficulties of imagining the experience of the mentally impaired, and examines several standards for decision-making: the 'prior expressed wishes standard', the 'substituted judgement standard', and the 'best interests standard'. (+info)
(6/40) True to oneself? Broad and narrow ideas on authenticity in the enhancement debate.
Our knowledge of the human brain and the influence of pharmacological substances on human mental functioning is expanding. This creates new possibilities to enhance personality and character traits. Psychopharmacological enhancers, as well as other enhancement technologies, raise moral questions concerning the boundary between clinical therapy and enhancement, risks and safety, coercion and justice. Other moral questions include the meaning and value of identity and authenticity, the role of happiness for a good life, or the perceived threats to humanity. Identity and authenticity are central in the debate on psychopharmacological enhancers. In this paper, I first describe the concerns at issue here as extensively propounded by Carl Elliott. Next, I address David DeGrazia's theory, which holds that there are no fundamental identity-related and authenticity-related arguments against enhancement technologies. I argue, however, that DeGrazia's line of reasoning does not succeed in settling these concerns. His conception of identity does not seem able to account for the importance we attach to personal identity in cases where personal identity is changed through enhancement technology. Moreover, his conception of authenticity does not explain the reason why we find inauthentic values objectionable. A broader approach to authenticity can make sense of concerns about changes in personal identity by means of enhancement technologies. (+info)
(7/40) Ethics, empathy, and the education of dentists.
Professional education in dentistry exists to educate good dentists-dentists equipped and committed to helping society gain the benefits of oral health. In achieving this intention, dental educators acknowledge that student dentists must acquire the complex knowledge base and the sophisticated perceptual-motor skills of dentistry. The graduation of knowledgeable and skilled clinicians in dentistry is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for ensuring quality oral health care. The further requirement is the commitment of graduates to applying their abilities with moral integrity: providing appropriate and quality care in their patients' best interest. Ultimately, good dentistry depends on individuals committed to treating their patients and society fairly, that is, ethically. This essay describes the historical basis for thinking about ethics from the perspective of human nature; describes how evolutionary ethics seeks to ground moral behavior in human emotion rather than primarily human reason; discusses the roots of morality in the behavior of animals, behavior that observed in humans would be described as empathy; characterizes empathy, discussing its imperative in caring for patients; and suggests what implications an empathy-mediated understanding of morality has for dental education. (+info)
(8/40) Carving nature at its joints using a knife called concepts.