2018 Books

Ethics, Conflict and Medical Treatment for Children: From disagreement to dissensus

Wilkinson, D. and Savulescu, J., (2018), 'Ethics, Conflict and Medical Treatment for Children', (Elsevier)

What should happen when doctors and parents disagree about what would be best for a child? When should courts become involved? Should life support be stopped against parents’ wishes?

The case of Charlie Gard, reached global attention in 2017. It led to widespread debate about the ethics of disagreements between doctors and parents, about the place of the law in such disputes, and about the variation in approach between different parts of the world.

In this book, medical ethicists Dominic Wilkinson and Julian Savulescu critically examine the ethical questions at the heart of disputes about medical treatment for children. They use the Gard case as a springboard to a wider discussion about the rights of parents, the harms of treatment, and the vital issue of limited resources. They discuss other prominent UK and international cases of disagreement and conflict.

From opposite sides of the debate Wilkinson and Savulescu provocatively outline the strongest arguments in favour of and against treatment. They analyse some of the distinctive and challenging features of treatment disputes in the 21st century and argue that disagreement about controversial ethical questions is both inevitable and desirable. They outline a series of lessons from the Gard case and propose a radical new ‘dissensus’ framework for future cases of disagreement.

Key Features

  • This new book critically examines the core ethical questions at the heart of disputes about medical treatment for children.
  • The contents review prominent cases of disagreement from the UK and internationally and analyse some of the distinctive and challenging features around treatment disputes in the 21st century.
  • The book proposes a radical new framework for future cases of disagreement around the care of gravely ill people.

Consciousness and Moral Status

Shepherd, J., (2018), 'Consciousness and Moral Status', (Routledge)

It seems obvious that phenomenally conscious experience is something of great value, and that this value maps onto a range of important ethical issues. For example, claims about the value of life for those in Permanent Vegetative State (PVS); debates about treatment and study of disorders of consciousness; controversies about end-of-life care for those with advanced dementia; and arguments about the moral status of embryos, fetuses, and non-human animals arguably turn on the moral significance of various facts about consciousness. However, though work has been done on the moral significance of elements of consciousness, such as pain and pleasure, little explicit attention has been devoted to the ethical significance of consciousness.

In this book Joshua Shepherd presents a systematic account of the value present within conscious experience. This account emphasizes not only the nature of consciousness, but also the importance of items within experience such as affect, valence, and the complex overall shape of particular valuable experiences. Shepherd also relates this account to difficult cases involving non-humans and humans with disorders of consciousness, arguing that the value of consciousness influences and partially explains the degree of moral status a being possesses, without fully determining it. The upshot is a deeper understanding of both the moral importance of phenomenal consciousness and its relations to moral status.

This book will be of great interest to philosophers and students of ethics, bioethics, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science.

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