Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Center for Community Partnerships (CFCP) and Ethics & Arts Program host a film screening & discussion of The Loving Story

The Center for Community Partnerships (CFCP) and the Ethics & Arts Program are hosting a film screening & discussion of The Loving Story on January 20, 2014 from 9:30 to noon at the Emory 
Center for Ethics, Room 102. 
Discussion led by Carlton and Kari Mackey. 
Event will also include a presentation by Dr. Pellom McDaniels on the Robert Langmuir Collection of more than 12,000 photographs depicting African American life from the early 19th century to the mid-20th century. 

Audience will include local high school students and parents from CFCP’s Graduation Generation initiative.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Zombies and Zombethics: A lively scholarly discussion about the (un)dead

On Friday November 1st, the Emory Center for Ethics hosted the second annual Zombies and Zombethics symposium. The event consisted of a series of panels where specialists in medicine, science, and the humanities engaged in the hypothetical: what would happen if a zombie apocalypse were to occur? This theme was carried out at the intersection of neuroethics, public health ethics, religion, and bioethics.   
Cory Labrecque, one of the event’s main coordinators, introduced zombies as animated beings that challenge our definitions of life and death. Looking at them pedagogically, we can explore the concept of zombies through different academic disciplines. Some of the questions asked of the panel included: What is death and how does this genre help us thinking about defining death; Do zombies have free will and how do they compare with an normal person’s will; and under what circumstances, if any, do “standards” of ethical conduct become obsolete. The first panel addressed some of these questions with a professor of history and a professor of biology who looked at the lessons learned from a Zombie Apocalypse. They turned to the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization and explored community formation and grouping as a result of a disaster.
After a short interruption with dancers from The Garden Collective who gifted the audience with a captivating performance of zombie dancers, attention turned back to the speakers. The next panel discussed zombies through the lens of film and media. This lead into the ethical challenges posed by the modern zombie genre, a cultural phenomenon hyped by movies and television shows. Applying this genre to their field, A Harvard University Professor of Psychiatry and an Emory University Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery spoke on the challenges of defining death. The difficulties arise in not just defining the physical state of death, but also what it means to be brain dead.
The symposium closed with a talk from a senior administrator from the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response at Emory University and an assistant medical director of emergency medicine. Here they discussed survival strategies should a disaster, such as a Zombie Apocalypse, occur. This survival simulation encompassed the topic through yet another frame of reference.

While the issues explored in the Zombie Apocalypse are real and applicable to today, zombies are an abstract and non-threatening concept that serve as a starting point for difficult conversations. Through this genre, we can engage in the ethical questions that occupy medicine, science, and government. This event posed as an outlet for these discussions, turning a controversial and sometimes alienating debate into an exciting and engaging dialogue focused around a fictional marvel found in many media of entertainment.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

This Week: Ethics in the News November 11-15

The three-sector health care company Johnson & Johnson has criminal and civil charges brought against them for deceptively marketing the antipsychotic drug Risperdal to older adults, children, and people with developmental disabilities. After a decade long fight from the federal government, the company has agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion dollars in fines to settle the allegations. Risperdal, which was once one of the company’s best selling drugs, has been marketed as a way to control patients with dementia and children with attention deficit disorders. It was claimed to reduce the symptoms that make treating these patients difficult, while ignoring the fact that it was approved to treat schizophrenia; The high risks were understated in its advertising. Johnson & Johnson plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor, but did not recognize the civil portion of the settlement. This case calls the ethics of advertising into question, and the reliability of proper treatment for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Artist Charmaine Minniefield Visits Emory University Center for Ethics

Artist and activist Charmaine Minniefield, pictured above (center), visited the Emory Center for Ethics on October 28th. A Fine Arts graduate of Agnes Scott College, Minniefield has worked as an arts administrator in Atlanta for nearly 20 years. She has held positions with many arts organizations, including the National Black Arts Festival, the High Museum of Art and the Fulton County Arts Council. Minniefield took the time to share the details of her creative process with Center for Ethics Faculty and Staff. Her latest exhibit, currently featured at the Center as part of the Ethics & the Arts Program at Emory University, is titled New Freedom: Images of Women in Early African American History. Inspired by photographs from the Penn Center of St. Helena Island, Minniefield’s work celebrates the lives of her ancestors. Specifically, her paintings accentuate the roles of African American women in newly emancipated Southern society. These paintings of gargantuan women are influenced by memories of her grandmothers who always seemed to be “larger than life”. A recurring aspect of much of Minniefield’s exhibit is the use of bold colors and patterns, most notably indigo blue. This color usage pays homage to the roots of African American culture in the coastal areas of North America, as well as Minniefield’s religious beliefs stemming from Western African tradition.

To see more of Charmaine’s work, click on the following link: 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This Week: Ethics in the News November 4-8

An ethics group accuses the Defense Department and CIA health professionals of violating professional ethics standards. The report, published by the Institute of Medicine as a Profession organization based at Columbia University, says the United States government has directed doctors, nurses, and psychologists to participate in the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. These medical personnel are believed to be involved in the development of interrogation and torture techniques, as well as the force-feeding of terror suspects. Dean Boyd, the CIA spokesman, said the report “contains serious inaccuracies and erroneous conclusions.” The main concern is that health workers are not being held to higher ethical standards than interrogators, who can inflict stress to legal limits. 
Read More: 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

This Week: Ethics in the News October 28-November 1

In the 21st century, the United States Government has done a lot in the name of national security that many argue violates human rights and civil liberties. The widespread surveillance by the National Security Agency has put the right to privacy in contention, which becomes even more heightened as Internet use grows and technology advances. With an unresponsive congress, more than two dozen privacy laws have been passed in over 10 states this year. The private information in question ranges from email and social media accounts, to which children get off at a particular bus stop after school. For companies like those in the advertising industry, it helps that state measures are constrained by federal law, preventing many proposed bills that limit the distribution of customers’ personal information. However, the states are succeeding in passing privacy laws such as those that restrict employers from demanding access to their employees’ social media accounts. After breaking through the biased lobbyists, the fearful public, and the political jargon, the issue in question is, what’s the right balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the government?  This is not just a question of preference, but also one of safety.

Euthanasia has long been a heated political topic in the United States. While the people in many areas are split on the issue, an overwhelming majority of Washington State voters are in favor of intentionally ending a life to relieve intractable suffering in some situations. In 2008, the Death With Dignity Act was passed, which allows terminally ill Washingtonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. However, many Washingtonians are being denied access to this legal end-of-life care due to the rules of PeaceHealth, a health-care system that adheres to conservative Catholic rules. Almost half of Washington’s hospitals and medical systems will be restricted by these rules by the end of the year, preventing many doctors from helping their patients participate in death with dignity.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

This Week: Ethics in the News October 21-25

In the 1950s, Dr. Perry Hudson tried to identify and cure prostate cancer by using men living in flophouses in Lower Manhattan as subjects. This was known as the Bowery study and was once glorified by urological journals and textbooks, but is now being given a second look for its unethical practices. While Dr. Hudson, now in his 90s, stands by his research, medical historians are criticizing his use of powerless people and the procedures performed on them. The men used in this study were poor and often times alcoholics or mentally ill, and were not informed of the risks of the procedure that resulted in many of them becoming impotent or contracting rectal infections. The treatment for those who were found to have prostate cancer was not much better. These patients had their prostates surgically removed and were given estrogen, both of which had complications of their own. Later studies found that Dr. Hudson’s treatment did little to prolong the lives of these men. The Bowery study is one of the many tragedies carried out in the name of medical research. The delayed criticism of the Bowery study should raise the question: how can we ensure that today’s medical research is executed ethically?
Read More:
The force-feeding of those on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay has reached an appeals court panel to challenge to legitimacy of these practices. As of now, the 15 detainees still on hunger strike are approved for force-feeding, however, their lawyer is seeking a ruling that would prevent this, leading to the possibility of their death. One lower court judge claimed that there was nothing inhumane about the treatment while the other deemed it a painful and degrading process, though both ruled that they did not have jurisdiction over the case. The debate continued outside the courthouse where protesters denounced force-feeding prisoners as torture.