Administrative items and reminders (attendance, emails, using prof’s office hours for lecture-related questions, TA office hours survey, self-reflection submission window closing)
Gave a brief overview of Thursday’s material
Click here to see what was written on the board (this will be uploaded shortly: the blackboard doesn’t translate well in images, so I will re-draw the diagrams and take a clearer photo to upload).
Discussion handout: Case analysis
Purpose: Get us thinking about different ethical theories in action. Get us thinking about cases, the issues we face in thinking through scenarios, and possible conflicts in principles and theories. Get us thinking about different relationships and responsibilities and the messiness of bioethics and health practices.
Case: Ash, a fourteen year-old, had developed acute lymphoblastic leukemia some years ago, but treatment had resulted in a complete remission. Recently, she had relapsed and again was placed under treatment. Dr. Bell is called in to oversee her care while her usual attending doctor is out of town. Before he enters the room, Ash’s mother (and legal decision maker) tells him that Ash did not know of the leukemia diagnosis: she wasn’t told when she was younger and hadn’t been told after the relapse. Ash’s father had died from lung cancer, and her aunt died from breast cancer, and the mother fears it would be too upsetting for Ash to know of her diagnosis. She tells Dr. Bell not to tell Ash, and to say that it was an unusual anemia. Ash’s regular care team had been complying with the mother’s wishes so far. Dr. Bell isn’t sure what to do. [case adapted from “The Protective Parent” by Dr. Paul Griner: Accessed January 13, 2018 from http://ihi.org/education/IHIOpenScool/resources/Pages/Activities/TheProtectiveParent.aspx]
Open Reflection: What should Dr. Bell do? What might a utilitarian say? What might a Kantian say? What might a Virtue Ethicist say? What do you think? What information do we have, or need, that seems relevant to making a decision? And for all these answers: Why that answer?
Groupwork and end of tutorial debriefing, we explored how each of the theories can yield multiple interpretations or results (applications of the objections we considered in class), as well as differences between theories, and between theories and our own intuitions. We concluded by looking over some of the details of the case, and pointing out what may be relevant information, what could be distracting, what information we do and do not have.
Some of the end goals were to (i) show us why and how moral philosophy tries to refine ethical theories, (ii) see what theories (and objections) look like in regular lives and not just unlikely thought experiments, (iii) explore the conflicts between theories and begin thinking about principleism or casuistry for next week, and (iv) get us thinking with and about just generally recognize the messiness of bioethics and medicine, the limits of our knowledges, and begin reflecting on information and relevant information.