1st Edition

Bioethics 50 Puzzles, Problems, and Thought Experiments

    304 Pages
    by Routledge

    304 Pages
    by Routledge

    Bioethics: 50 Puzzles, Problems, and Thought Experiments collects 50 cases—both real and imaginary—that have been, or should be, of special interest and importance to philosophical bioethics. Cases are collected together under topical headings in a natural order for an introductory course in bioethics. Each case is described in a few pages, which includes bioethical context, a concise narrative of the case itself, and a discussion of its importance, both for broader philosophical issues and for practical problems in clinical ethics and health policy. Each entry also contains a brief, annotated, list of suggested readings. In addition to the classic cases in bioethics, the book contains discussion of cases that involve several emerging bioethical issues: especially, issues around disability, social justice, and the practice of medicine in a diverse and globalized world.

    Key Features:

    • Gives readers all chapters presented in an identical format:
      • The Case
      • Responses
      • Suggested Readings
    • Includes reference to up-to-date literature in journals devoted both to more generalist ethics and to bioethics
    • Offers short and self-contained chapters, allowing students to quickly understand an issue and giving instructors flexibility in assigning readings to match the themes of the course
    • Features actual or lightly fictionalized cases in humanitarian aid, offering a type of case that is often underrepresented in bioethics books
    • Authored by three scholars who are actively involved in the central research areas of bioethics


    Part I: Bioethics and Philosophical Methodology
    1. Bioethics as Moral Theory: The Transplant and the Trolley
    2. Bioethics as Metaphysics: The Brain Transplant
    3. Bioethics across Cultures: The Farewell

    Part II: Creating Life
    4. Should I have Children? The Islanders and the Cube
    5. Which Children Should I Have, I? The Non-Identity Problem
    6. Which Children Should I have, II? Gattaca
    7. Making People Happy, or Making Happy People? The Repugnant Conclusion
    8. Is Abortion Permissible? Thomson’s Violinist
    9. What we Owe to our Unborn Children: Rescues Easy and Hard

    Part III: Value of Life: Disability and Well-Being
    10. Is it bad to be disabled, I? The case of Cara and Daisy
    11. Is it bad to be disabled, I? Adaptive Preference
    12. Morbidity vs. Mortality: The QALY trap
    13. What makes a disability? the Counterfactual Test
    14. When is a life worth living? The Challenge of Covert Consciousness

    Part IV: Deciding for Others
    15. Deciding for disability: The Ashley Treatment
    16. Dilemmas of decision-making: Kill Mary to Save Jodie?
    17. Deciding for the Future: Margo’s Advance Directive
    18. My decision alone? Family, Community, and Consent in Global Context

    Part V: Deciding for Yourself
    19. Wrongs, without Harms? Two cases on the basis of informed consent
    20. Who is Competent to Consent? Anorexia Nervosa
    21. The Ethics of Influence, I: A Clinical Nudge
    22. The Ethics of Influence, II: The Nocebo Effect

    Part VI: Killing and Dying
    23. Better to Die? The ‘Mercy’ Killing at Memorial
    24. To Kill or Let Die? Rachels on Active and Passive Euthanasia
    25. What Does It Mean to Kill? Stopping hearts, Artificial and Otherwise
    26. Counting Deaths: Statistical and Identified Lives
    27. What Does It Mean to Die, I? Jahi McMath and the Definition of Death
    28. What Does It Mean to Die, II? Death and the Sanctity of the Body in Islam

    Part VII: The Ethics of Clinical Research
    29. When Is Research Ethical? The Tuskegee Study
    30. Using or Misusing? The Short-Course AZT Trials
    31. What can Consent Justify? Challenge Trials for COVID-19
    32. A Right to Try? Access to Experimental Medicine

    Part VIII: Fair Distribution
    33. Do the Numbers count? Taurek’s Tradeoffs
    34. Ours or Us? Henrietta Lacks, and the HeLa Cell Line
    35. Allocation in an Emergency: Ventilator Triage
    36. Data and Distribution: Algorithmic Fairness
    37. Fairness in the Clinic: The Racial Empathy Gap

    Part IX: Public Health: Freedom and Justice
    38. Fair Access to Care, or Freedom of Conscience? Physician Refusals
    39. Stay at home? The Ethics of Lockdowns
    40. Freedom and Viruses: The Case of Medical Misinformation
    41. My Body, My Choice? Vaccine Mandates

    Part X: The Boundaries of Medicine
    42. What Should We Change? The Yeshiva Student and His Orientations
    43. Can Medicine Make us Better? The God Machine

    Part XI: Medicine across Borders: Dilemmas of Complicity and Compromise
    44. Does it Harm to Help? Rescuing Migrants
    45. Who Owns My Image? Photographing Survivors
    46. Harm Minimization I: Female Genital Cutting
    47. Harm Minimization II: Physicians and Caning
    48. Doing the Best with What We have? Foreign Medicine and the Haiti Earthquake
    49. How to keep helping, I: Taking Sides in the Arab Spring?
    50. How to keep helping, II: Compromise with the Taliban


    Sean D. Aas is a Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Georgetown University. His primary areas of research are bioethics and social and political philosophy, with a significant focus on issues of disability: disability as social construct, disability and political egalitarianism, disability and health.

    Collin O'Neil is an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at Lehman College, City University of New York. He teaches and writes on applied ethics, especially medical and clinical research ethics, and topics in legal philosophy.

    Chiara Lepora has worked for Médecins Sans Frontières since 2002 and is currently Head of the Manson Unit for MSF UK. She is a medical doctor who conducts research on the ethics of humanitarian assistance and coauthored, with Robert E. Goodin, the book, On Complicity and Compromise (2013).