Twitter: @ethicsinthenews • @DavidEdmonds100 • @philosophybites (@philosophybites followed by 709 philosophers)
2011 to 2012
Average episode: 19 minutes
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Categories: Ethics • Interview-Style • Science and Technology
Podcaster's summary: Bioethics is the study of the moral implications of new and emerging medical technologies and looks to answer questions such as selling organs, euthanasia and whether should we clone people. The series consists of a series of interviews by leading bioethics academics and is aimed at individuals looking to explore often difficult and confusing questions surrounding medical ethics. The series lays out the issue in a clear and precise way and looks to show all sides of the debate.
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|2012-Feb-03 • 20 minutes|
Neuroscience Can Tell Us About Morality
What can science tell us about morality? Many philosophers would say, 'nothing at all'. Facts don't imply values, they say. you need further argument to move from facts about us and about the world to conclusions about what we ought to do. For example, most humans are altruistic - they genuinely care about the well-being of friends and family and to a lesser extent even of strangers - they'll give money to charity to help people they've never even met. Suppose science gives us a compelling scientific expla...
|2012-Jan-04 • 17 minutes|
Brain Chemistry and Moral Decision-Making
Answers to moral questions, it seems, depend on how much serotonin there is flowing through your brain. In the future might we be able to alter people's moral behaviour with concoctions of chemicals? A train is hurtling towards five people; it's out of control. You are standing on a footbridge, standing next to a very obese man. The only way to save the five is to push the man over the footbridge to his certain death: his bulk would stop the train and save five lives. Should you do it? Should you give him a...
|2011-Dec-01 • 16 minutes|
If someone caught me shoplifting, and I was later diagnosed with kleptomania, should I be held responsible? Should I be blamed? There's a growing body of knowledge in psychiatry and neuroscience about why people think and behave the way they do. And according to one school of thought, as our knowledge expands, so the space for responsibility contracts. Hanna Pickard is not from that school. She believes we can, at one and the same time, diagnose a disorder and hold the person with that disorder responsi...
|2011-Nov-01 • 18 minutes|
Everyday people die in hospitals because there aren't enough organs available for transplant. In most countries of the world - though not all - it is illegal to sell organs. Governments insist that the motive for donating organs has to be altruistic, it can't be financial reward. The idea of being able to sell body parts makes many people uneasy. But is it time for a policy change: should we be permitted to flog one of our kidneys on ebay, say, for $10,000. If not, why not? Tim Lewens is a Cambridge phi...
|2011-Oct-03 • 20 minutes|
Demand for health care is infinite, but money is finite. So how should we distribute resources? Whom should we help, and why? Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/...
|2011-Sep-01 • 18 minutes|
Radically new techniques are opening up exciting possibilities for those working in health care - for psychiatrists, doctors, surgeons; the option to clone human beings, to give just one example. Who should determine what is allowed and what prohibited? And what sort of consent should doctors have to have from patients before treatment. Is the trend towards consent forms helpful? Or should we trust doctors to make good decisions for us. For many years now, philosopher Onora O'neill, formerly principal of N...
|2011-Aug-01 • 19 minutes|
Status Quo Bias
Suppose a genetic engineering breakthrough made it simple, safe and cheap to increase people's intelligence. Nonetheless, if you asked the averagely-intelligent person on the Clapham Omnibus whether we should tamper with our genes to boost our brains, he or she might recoil at the notion. Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, suspects that this reaction may be a result of what he calls 'status-quo bias'. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 U...
|2011-Jul-04 • 16 minutes|
Life and Death
If a patient decides she doesn't want to live any longer, should she be allowed to die? Should she be allowed to kill herself? If a patient is in no position to decide - perhaps she's in a coma - then should somebody else be able to decide to kill her? Who? Is there a moral difference between killing and allowing someone to die? And is the role of the doctor always to prolong life? Peter Singer, of Princeton University, is one of the world's leading bio-ethicists, and has been reflecting on life and dea...
|2011-May-31 • 19 minutes|
A stone on the beach, we assume, has no moral status. We can kick or hammer the stone, and we have done the stone no harm. Typical adult human beings do have moral status. We shouldn't, without a very good reason, kick a man or woman. Often, contentious moral issues, such as embryo research, or abortion, or whether to turn off a life-support machine, turn on disagreement about moral status. So the key questions are, who or what has moral status, and why? Jeff McMahan, of Rutgers University, has spent years ...
|2011-May-31 • 21 minutes|
The term 'designer baby' is usually used in a pejorative sense - to conjure up some dystopian Brave New World. There are already ways to affect what kind of children you have - most obviously by choosing the partner to have them with. But there are others too: a pregnant mother can improve her baby's prospects by not smoking, for instance. With advances in genetics, however, there will soon be radical new methods to select or influence the characteristics of your progeny: not just physical characteristics, ...