Is the human body a piece of property? We certainly object to the sale of whole human beings, but what about cases where a person merely wants to sell a part of her body? If I am free to donate my organs, why am I not free to to sell them as well? For Professor Anne Phillips, the problem lies in treating the body as property, analogous to any other commodity.
In this episode of Public Ethics Radio, we explore issues of ownership and the body. These questions do not end with organ sales. What limits, for instance, should we put on the sale of bodily services like surrogacy? Should trade in these services be limited, in order to prevent the poor from being exploited by the rich? Should organ markets be legalized and regulated? We discuss these questions with Anne Phillips, Professor of Political Gender and Gender Theory at the London School of Economics.
A selection of the latest news from Afghanistan.
There is no denying that international borders—coercively upheld and protected—are a huge factor in determining the distribution of wealth and opportunities throughout the world. From education and health care, to access to credit and the rule of law, a host of factors that influence quality of life depend simply on which side of a border a person is born on. Yet what could be more arbitrary, morally speaking, than where a person happens to be born? And why is it that inequality and poverty traceable back to this factor is generally considered less objectionable than deprivations that result from factors such as race, ethnicity or gender?
To get a grip on these questions, Public Ethics Radio discussed immigration and citizenship policies with Christopher Heath Wellman. Wellman is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis, and a Professorial Research Fellow at Charles Sturt University in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, an Australian Research Council Special Research Centre. His views on immigration are also set out in his recent, “Immigration and Freedom of Association,” Ethics 119, no. 1 (2008): 109–141.
Once a week or so, we’ll be rounding up recent reading material on Afghanistan. After the jump, the inaugural list.
This post is the first in a series of examination of the moral issues at stake in the war in Afghanistan. Today: the initial assessment of the resort to war in 2001.
I’m pleased an announce a special project for Public Ethics Radio. Christian and I, along with the talented producer Barbara Clare, are in the process of producing a special episode on the war in Afghanistan. The roots of this project are simple: we want to understand the war. As any observer can tell you, this isn’t easy.
The widespread agreement on the importance of human rights in liberal democracies masks sharp differences between governments’ methods of protecting these rights. What does a country gain by enacting a bill of rights? Do countries that lack bills of rights, like Australia, protect human rights as well as those, like the United States and Canada, that have them? Does it make a difference if such rights are written into a foundational government document, as they in the United States, or if they are at least ostensibily on par with all other legislation, as they are in the United Kingdom?
In this episode of Public Ethics Radio, human-rights lawyer Hilary Charlesworth leads us through the challenging questions posed by the institutionalization of human rights.
Can we infringe individual rights to promote public health? Should, say, individuals be allowed to determine for themselves when they are too infectious to get on a plane? What happens when an individual contracts a new disease that is of unknown virulence? How do we deal with patients who don’t take their prescriptions correctly and risk allowing dangerous pathogens to mutate?
These urgent questions are the domain of the bioethics of infectious disease. On this episode of Public Ethics Radio, we are aided in the search for answers by the philosopher and tuberculosis expert Michael Selgelid.
In other good news, we’re thrilled to announce that PER has been awarded a grant by the Australian National University’s College of Arts and Social Sciences E-Research and E-Learning Sub-Committee. We’re very grateful to the university for its support.
I’m very pleased to say that Public Ethics Radio is back from a little impromptu hiatus. We’ve recorded three brand new episodes: Michael Selgelid on infectious diseases, Christopher Heath Wellman on the theory and practice of immigration, and Hilary Charlesworth on bills of rights. We’ll start posting these very, very soon.