Western Michigan University School Of Medicine
Western Michigan University
  •  47
    Some bioconservatives reject the use of biotechnology for moral enhancement while simultaneously purporting to accept standard theism and process virtue (STPV). Standard theism holds that God is a personal, omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, transcendent being. Process virtue holds that intrinsically valuable virtue can only be obtained through a specific process and not by means of biotechnological shortcuts. We describe two internal critiques, one conceptual and the other moral, that aris…Read more
  • Currently, humans lack the cognitive and moral capacities to prevent the widespread suffering associated with collective risks, like pandemics, climate change, or even asteroids. In Moral Enhancement and the Public Good, Parker Crutchfield argues for the controversial, and initially counterintuitive claim that everyone should be administered a substance that makes us better people. Furthermore, he argues that it should be administered without our knowledge. That is, moral bioenhancement should b…Read more
  •  73
    We apply the analysis that we have developed over the course of several publications on the significance of ignorance for decision-making, especially in surrogate (and, thus, in political) contexts, to political decision-making, such as it has been, during the COVID-19 pandemic (see Scheall 2019; Crutchfield and Scheall 2019; Scheall and Crutchfield 2020; Scheall 2020). Policy responses to the coronavirus constitute a case study of the problem of policymaker ignorance. We argue that political re…Read more
  •  80
    The Duty to Protect, Abortion, and Organ Donation
    with Emily Carroll
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. forthcoming.
    Some people oppose abortion on the grounds that fetuses have full moral status and thus a right to not be killed. We argue that special obligations that hold between mother and fetus also hold between parents and their children. We argue that if these special obligations necessitate the sacrifice of bodily autonomy in the case of abortion, then they also necessitate the sacrifice of bodily autonomy in the case of organ donation. If we accept the argument that it is obligatory to override a woman…Read more
  •  104
    Ethical Allocation of Remdesivir
    with Tyler S. Gibb, Michael J. Redinger, and William Fales
    American Journal of Bioethics 20 (7): 84-86. 2020.
    As the federal government distributed remdesivir to some of the states COVID-19 hit hardest, policymakers scrambled to develop criteria to allocate the drug to their hospitals. Our state, Michigan, was among those states to receive an initial quantity of the drug from the U.S. government. The disparities in burden of disease in Michigan are striking. Detroit has a death rate more than three times the state average. Our recommendation to the state was that it should prioritize the communities tha…Read more
  •  179
    Extrapolating from Laboratory Behavioral Research on Nonhuman Primates Is Unjustified
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 37 (4): 628-645. 2020.
    Conducting research on animals is supposed to be valuable because it provides information on how human mechanisms work. But for the use of animal models to be ethically justified, it must be epistemically justified. The inference from an observation about an animal model to a conclusion about humans must be warranted for the use of animals to be moral. When researchers infer from animals to humans, it’s an extrapolation. Often non-human primates are used as animal models in laboratory behavioral…Read more
  •  227
    Delusion, Proper Function, and Justification
    Neuroethics 14 (2): 113-124. 2020.
    Among psychiatric conditions, delusions have received significant attention in the philosophical literature. This is partly due to the fact that many delusions are bizarre, and their contents interesting in and of themselves. But the disproportionate attention is also due to the notion that by studying what happens when perception, cognition, and belief go wrong, we can better understand what happens when these go right. In this paper, I attend to delusions for the second reason—by evaluating th…Read more
  •  1145
    Humans are morally deficient in a variety of ways. Some of these deficiencies threaten the continued existence of our species. For example, we appear to be incapable of responding to climate change in ways that are likely to prevent the consequent suffering. Some people are morally better than others, but we could all be better. The price of not becoming morally better is that when those events that threaten us occur, we will suffer from them. If we can prevent this suffering from occurring, the…Read more
  •  98
    The Priority of the Epistemic
    Episteme. forthcoming.
    Epistemic burdens – the nature and extent of our ignorance (that and how) with respect to various courses of action – serve to determine our incentive structures. Courses of action that seem to bear impossibly heavy epistemic burdens are typically not counted as options in an actor’s menu, while courses of action that seem to bear comparatively heavy epistemic burdens are systematically discounted in an actor’s menu relative to options that appear less epistemically burdensome. That ignorance se…Read more
  •  149
    Epistemic Burdens, Moral Intimacy, and Surrogate Decision Making
    American Journal of Bioethics 20 (2): 59-61. 2020.
    Berger (forthcoming) states that moral intimacy is important in applying the best interests standard. But what he calls moral intimacy requires that someone has overcome epistemic burdens needed to represent the patient. We argue elsewhere that good surrogate decision-making is first and foremost a matter of overcoming epistemic burdens, or those obstacles that stand in the way of a surrogate decision-maker knowing what a patient wants and how to satisfy those preferences. Berger’s notion of mor…Read more
  •  171
    Moral Normative Force and Clinical Ethics Expertise
    American Journal of Bioethics 19 (11): 89-91. 2019.
    Brummett and Salter propose a useful and timely taxonomy of clinical ethics expertise (2019). As the field becomes further “professionalized” this taxonomy is important, and the core of it is right. It needs some refinement around the edges, however. In their conclusion, Brummett and Salter rightly point out that there is a significant difference between the ethicist whose recommendations are procedure- and process-heavy, consensus-driven, and dialogical and the authoritarian ethicist whose reco…Read more
  •  428
    Epistemic burdens and the incentives of surrogate decision-makers
    Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 22 (4): 613-621. 2019.
    We aim to establish the following claim: other factors held constant, the relative weights of the epistemic burdens of competing treatment options serve to determine the options that patient surrogates pursue. Simply put, surrogates confront an incentive, ceteris paribus, to pursue treatment options with respect to which their knowledge is most adequate to the requirements of the case. Regardless of what the patient would choose, options that require more knowledge than the surrogate possesses (…Read more
  •  655
    The Conditions For Ethical Application of Restraints
    with Tyler Gibb, Michael Redinger, Dan Ferman, and John Livingstone
    Chest 155 (3): 617-625. 2018.
    Despite the lack of evidence for their effectiveness, the use of physical restraints for patients is widespread. The best ethical justification for restraining patients is that it prevents them from harming themselves. We argue that even if the empirical evidence supported their effectiveness in achieving this aim, their use would nevertheless be unethical, so long as well known exceptions to informed consent fail to apply. Specifically, we argue that ethically justifiable restraint use demands …Read more
  •  8
    Placebos and a New Exception to Informed Consent
    with Tyler Gibb and Michael Redinger
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 9 (3): 200-202. 2018.
  •  14
  •  11
    Decoded Neurofeedback is Unlikely to Enhance Moral Capacities
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 7 (2): 125-126. 2016.
  •  225
    The limits of deontology in dental ethics education
    with Lea Brandt and David Fleming
    International Journal of Ethics Education 1 (2): 183-200. 2016.
    Most current dental ethics curricula use a deontological approach to biomedical and dental ethics that emphasizes adherence to duties and principles as properties that determine whether an act is ethical. But the actual ethical orientation of students is typically unknown. The purpose of the current study was to determine the ethical orientation of dental students in resolving clinical ethical dilemmas. First-year students from one school were invited to participate in an electronic survey that …Read more
  •  263
    Cross-modal Influence on Oral Size Perception
    with Connor Mahoney, Cesar Rivera, and Vanessa Pazdernik
    Archives of Oral Biology 61 89-97. 2016.
    Objective: Evidence suggests people experience an oral size illusion and commonly perceive oral size inaccurately; however, the nature of the illusion remains unclear. The objectives of the present study were to confirm the presence of an oral size illusion, determine the magnitude (amount) and direction (underestimation or overestimation) of the illusion, and determine whether immediately prior crossmodal perceptual experiences affected the magnitude and direction. Design: Participants (N = 27)…Read more
  •  287
    Observed Altruism of Dental Students: An Experiment Using the Ultimatum Game
    with Justin Jarvis and Terry Olson
    Journal of Dental Education 81 (11): 1301-1308. 2017.
    PURPOSE: The conventional wisdom in dental and medical education is that dental and medical students experience "ethical erosion" over the duration of dental and medical school. There is some evidence for this claim, but in the case of dental education this evidence consists entirely of survey research, which doesn't measure behavior. The purpose of this study was to measure the altruistic behavior of dental students, in order to fill the significant gap in knowledge of how students are disposed…Read more
  •  594
    Compulsory moral bioenhancement should be covert
    Bioethics 33 (1): 112-121. 2019.
    Some theorists argue that moral bioenhancement ought to be compulsory. I take this argument one step further, arguing that if moral bioenhancement ought to be compulsory, then its administration ought to be covert rather than overt. This is to say that it is morally preferable for compulsory moral bioenhancement to be administered without the recipients knowing that they are receiving the enhancement. My argument for this is that if moral bioenhancement ought to be compulsory, then its administr…Read more
  •  310
    Moral Enhancement Can Kill
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43 (5): 568-584. 2018.
    There is recent empirical evidence that personal identity is constituted by one’s moral traits. If true, this poses a problem for those who advocate for moral enhancement, or the manipulation of a person’s moral traits through pharmaceutical or other biological means. Specifically, if moral enhancement manipulates a person’s moral traits, and those moral traits constitute personal identity, then it is possible that moral enhancement could alter a person’s identity. I go a step further and argue …Read more
  •  11
    Being Hungry Affects Oral Size Perception
    I-Perception 9 (3). 2018.
    Oral size perception is not veridical, and there is disagreement on whether this non-veridicality tends to underestimate or overestimate size. Further, being hungry has been shown to affect oral size perception. In the present study, we investigated the effect of hunger on oral size perception. Overall, being hungry had a small but significant effect on oral size perception and seemed to support that oral size perception tends to underestimate the size of objects. Both hungry and sated participa…Read more
  •  14
    Conversion Disorder Diagnosis and Medically Unexplained Symptoms
    with Michael James Redinger, Tyler S. Gibb, Peter Longstreet, and Robert Strung
    American Journal of Bioethics 18 (5): 31-33. 2018.
  •  65
    The Ethics of Anti-aging Clinical Trials
    Science and Engineering Ethics 24 (2): 441-453. 2018.
    Interventions aiming to slow, stop, or reverse the aging process are starting to enter clinical trials. Though this line of research is nascent, it has the potential to not only prevent prolonged human suffering, but also to extend human well-being. As this line of research develops, it is important to understand the ethical constraints of conducting such research. This paper discusses some of these constraints. In particular, it discusses the ethical difficulties of conducting this research in …Read more
  •  192
    Representing high-level properties in perceptual experience
    Philosophical Psychology 25 (2). 2012.
    High-level theory is the view that high-level properties---the property of being a dog, being a tiger, being an apple, being a pair of lips, etc.---can be represented in perceptual experience. Low-level theory denies this and claims that high-level properties are only represented at the level of perceptual judgment and are products of cognitive interpretation of low-level sensory information (color, shape, illumination). This paper discusses previous attempts to establish high-level theory, thei…Read more
  •  366
    The Epistemology of Moral Bioenhancement
    Bioethics 30 (5): 389-396. 2016.
    Moral bioenhancement is the potential practice of manipulating individuals’ moral behaviors by biological means in order to help resolve pressing moral issues such as climate change and terrorism. This practice has obvious ethical implications, and these implications have been and continue to be discussed in the bioethics literature. What have not been discussed are the epistemological implications of moral bioenhancement. This article details some of these implications of engaging in moral bioe…Read more