KIEJ News

Editor’s Pick, June 2016: Brian Earp’s “Between Moral Relativism and Moral Hypocrisy: Reframing the Debate on ‘FGM'”

Our Editor’s Pick for June 2016 is Brian Earp’s groundbreaking article, “Between Moral Relativism and Moral Hypocrisy: Reframing the Debate on ‘FGM.’” Earp tackles the ethics of female genital cutting or “mutilation” (an ethically loaded term). This is a difficult topic that brings on board gender inequity, the integrity of the body, the value of cultural traditions, sexuality, colonialism, ethnocentrism, and other fraught axes of reflection.

This issue of KIEJ also features three commentaries on Earp’s article by Richard Schweder, Jamie Nelson, and Robert Darby that you may read here.

New Book Reviews: Parens; Heath; and Solomon

New book reviews from the KIEJ are available! Versions appropriate for citation can be found in the March 2016 issue of the KIEJ at Project MUSE (subscribers only).

Shaping Our Selves: On Technology, Flourishing, and the Habit of Thinking — Erik Parens

Oxford University Press 2014
Reviewed by Nancy M.P. King

Morality, Competition, and the Firm — Joseph Heath

Oxford University Press 2014
Reviewed by Jason Brennan

Making Medical Knowledge — Miriam Solomon

Oxford University Press 2015
Reviewed by Miles Little

Editor’s Pick, March 2016: Marco Annoni and Franklin G. Miller

The Editor’s Pick for March 2016 is Franklin Miller and Marco Annoni’s paper, “Placebo Effects and the Ethics of Therapeutic Communication: A Pragmatic Approach.” This paper challenges one of the most fundamental metaethical pillars of traditional bioethics: the distinction between therapy and communication about therapy. Traditionally, we think that protecting autonomy requires communication about therapeutic possibilities before any therapy can begin; imposing therapy before obtaining informed consent may be beneficent, but it constitutes a paternalistic violation of autonomy. Miller and Annoni examine “therapeutic communication”: communication that enhances placebo effects in virtue of its manipulation of patient expectations. Placebo studies “demonstrate that the way in which health professionals communicate, disclose, frame, and contextualize information to patients may modulate symptoms across an array of highly prevalent conditions.” Thus “communication by clinicians has the power to turn diagnoses and prognoses into parts of the treatment.” Hence there is not always a neat distinction between communication and therapy, or between beneficence and autonomy considerations. This is a crucial challenge to the nearly universally presupposed division of ethical labor in medical care.

Read and download a PDF of “Placebo Effects and the Ethics of Therapeutic Communication: A Pragmatic Approach” here.

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