A basket of colorful vegetables sitting on table in between two piles of apples and carrots.

Issue 8(4)

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Volume 8, Number 4 (December 2011)


Discussing Difference and Dealing With Desolation and Despair

Michael A. Ashby and Leigh E. Rich

A Tip of the Hat to Our Peer Reviewers

Michael A. Ashby and Leigh E. Rich

Recent Developments

Considering the “Born-Alive” Rule and Possession of Sperm Following Death

Bernadette Richards, Bill Madden, and Tina Cockburn


Reflecting on the Psycholization of TRCs

Zvi Bekerman

Unveiling the Past—Preparing the Conditions for Human Beings to Live in the Midst of One Another Again? A Response From Living in Northern Ireland

Derick Wilson

Response to Comments on “Truth in Reconciliation”

Alphonso Lingis

Original Research

Religion and Bioethics: Can We Talk?

William E. Stempsey
Religious voices were important in the early days of the contemporary field of bioethics but have now become decidedly less prominent. This is unfortunate because religious elements are essential parts of the most foundational aspects of bioethics. The problem is that there is an incommensurability between religious language and languages of public discourse such as the “public reason” of John Rawls. To eliminate what is unique in religious language is to lose something essential. This paper examines the reasons for the marginalization of religion in bioethics, shows the limitations of Rawls’s notion of public reason, and argues for a more robust role for theology in articulating a new language for public discourse in bioethics.

Omissions, Causation, and Responsibility

Andrew J. McGee
In this paper I discuss a recent exchange of articles between Hugh McLachlan and John Coggon on the relationship between omissions, causation, and moral responsibility. My aim is to contribute to their debate by isolating a presupposition I believe they both share and by questioning that presupposition. The presupposition is that, at any given moment, there are countless things that I am omitting to do. This leads both McLachlan and Coggon to give a distorted account of the relationship between causation and moral or (as the case may be) legal responsibility and, in the case of Coggon, to claim that the law’s conception of causation is a fiction based on policy. Once it is seen that this presupposition is faulty, we can attain a more accurate view of the logical relationship between causation and moral responsibility in the case of omissions. This is important because it will enable us, in turn, to understand why the law continues to regard omissions as different, both logically and morally, from acts, and why the law seeks to track that logical and moral difference in the legal distinction it draws between withholding life-sustaining measures and euthanasia.

Confronting Death in Legal Disputes About Treatment-Limitation in Children

Kristin Savell
Most legal analyses of selective nontreatment of seriously ill children centre on the question of whether it is in a child’s best interests to be kept alive in the face of extreme suffering and/or an intolerable quality of life. Courts have resisted any direct confrontation with the question of whether the child’s death is in his or her best interests. Nevertheless, representations of death may have an important role to play in this field of jurisprudence. The prevailing philosophy is to configure death as a release from a futile or painful existence and/or as a dignified end in an objectively hopeless situation. However, there can be disagreement about the meaning of death in these settings. Some parents object that death would be premature or that it represents a culpable neglect of their child. A closer examination of these discordant interpretations allows for a better comprehension of the cultural understandings that underscore clinical and legal accounts of death following end-of-life decisions.


An Odyssey With Animals: A Veterinarian’s Reflections on the Animal Rights and Welfare Debate

Rob Irvine

Conflicts of Interest and the Future of Medicine: The United States, France, and Japan

Adam Licurse and Aaron S. Kesselheim

“Destination Hospitals”—Design of Cleveland Clinic Hospital, Abu Dhabi

Katrina A. Bramstedt

Case Studies

In That Case: Toward a Sociology of Conflict of Interest in Medical Research

Sarah Winch and Michael Sinnott