All posts by Georgia Karlos

Countless Superior Systems; Why won’t the US take a hint?

Brody and Engelhardt introduce the history of healthcare and provide insightful examples of countries that offer socialized medicine, starting with Germany and Britain. This article alone mentions discouragement of treatment to more advanced technology as reasons for healthcare success, but these reasons themselves are not enough to reveal how they are more moral.

I also encourage you to check out this revealing attempt by the Internet (the ever-entertaining Yahoo Answers)  in responding to a related question:

(It is funny picking up on how everyone thinks they are the expert, and answers range from education reform to budgeting to immigrant policies!).

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In addition to Germany and Britain, we should perhaps take a look at Scandinavian countries like Norway and to understand more deeply why they are healthier – healthier bodies, and healthier wallets. Their systems are consistently more successful in the big picture.

The Nordic countries are considered to be the best-governed nations in the world (The Economist). Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway are ranked highest overall, taking into account all factors to ensure relevancy to health. These include global competitiveness, innovation, corruption perceptions, ease of doing business, human development, and prosperity. However, these high marks are a result of  subjective perceptions from outsiders just as much as what numbers reveal. As a consequence, people also attach higher levels of morality with the original affairs. By this I am suggesting the US is capable of providing the healthcare everyone deserves, as we are capable of handling large scale economic calibers. While some say we are disadvantaged for having invented Coke and McDonald’s, their global prevalence gives us no grounds to suggest we are doomed to spend more on our health outcomes. Since the basic conditions are met and align with other first world countries, the problem is not that we do not have the means, but that something is holding us back. This is a moral problem. The situation denies what the US government promises its people, and American individuals have been stuck as the victims of this moral dilemma. Brody and Engelhardt ask many questions as to how approach a solution, but answers need to come from politicians and businessmen who must look at this as ethicists. After all, healthcare is where politics and economics collide.

They do not need to start from scratch. It is already established the prevention is cost efficient. The resulting health benefits and lower costs of treating disease, thus ethically serve us. Since prevention is the key to our deserved outcomes, it is, as a result, moral to push vaccinations, limit smoking, and consumption of sugar. While it is not completely mandatory (preserving the freedom also promised by out government), it serves us better than if public health efforts did not get this chance – to have as much influence as for-profit and often illness-inducing corporations. The US needs to take a hint and realize that what works best is investing in prevention, for the sake of its budget and the health and promise to its people.


The Secret of their Success, The Economist. Last Accessed April 7, 2014.

Brody, Baruch A., and H. Tristram Engelhardt. Bioethics: Readings & Cases. Englewoods Cliffs, NJ:Prentice-Hall, 1987. Print.

Critical Thinking and Hazardous Inconsistency

Julian Savulescu and Richard W. Momeyer’s article “Should Informed Consent Be Based on Rational Beliefs?” gives its readers a fresh perspective on consent not yet addressed by other authors in Arguing about Bioethics, by Stephen Holland, and it is one that happens to be very critical of the different thought processes that arise in choice making and their logical soundness.

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This entails dissection of various situations of a theoretical person but they are always somehow placed in an inferior position- the relating of example stories to theory heavily place the decision-making critiques on the patient, in the case of a patient-doctor relationship. The authors do little to provide ways of evaluating the differences between each of the unsuccessful outcomes, and solutions that are reached in this article speak to things that doctors can do better, not patients, lawyers, and others who could benefit from being more self-aware. It is this self-awareness that would in fact solve their three cases of holding false beliefs.


First of all, there is the heavy reliance on Jehovah’s Witnesses as their go-to example (it is not as easily relatable for non-religious people and definitely not a reliable example across universal belief systems) and this shows a weakness in their article on the most general level. This is so as such reliability on only one specific case is in a way “taking the easy way out” and not showing how their perspective is crucial to the success in every case.


The authors provide smaller example situations with characters such as “Author 1” which are better in generalizability but contain gaps still. As these authors proceed to be so critical of the thought-processes described, I too will show that with the same criticism their overall argument lacks a final impression that motivates change.


A first gap occurs on page 329, when they claim more information to patients must be given, and that is must be relevant. A lack of discussion on what is “relevant” is a gap because it is later crucial in their 3 “Author” examples; they demand that the unknowing person somehow should make themselves informed of things they would not even consider possible in their situation in order to make a their beliefs true. Thus it is crucial to understand what relevant information is so that decisions can be both rational and based on true beliefs, and the person can as a result truly be autonomous. It is now clear that a gap would remain without a discussion on relevancy.


As the authors attempt to apply a case of Jehovah’s Witnesses to patient-doctor relationships, they do use useful sub-examples of a character intending to put out a fire. Something interesting they claim in the process, however, is that sometimes people are unsuccessful in their decisions because the do not care to inform themselves. They then say this results in both practical and theoretical failures. I believe this is inconsistent, as this leads to a result of failed thinking, which has practical implications. The authors may want to revisit such examples with a more philosophical eye- by this I mean checking the validity of their statements to ensure their effectiveness. In the world of Logic, a perspective within the broader study of philosophy, it is possible their article has several fallacies. This word at its root “fallare” means “mistake” in latin. In this case, we see fallacies of “begging the question”. In addition, although  contradictions are still valid by definition, any that come up in the article take away from consistency in argument. It is clear how this takes away from its degree of conviction.


The final takeaway of this article is indeed more along the lines of having the patient trying to inform themselves more, as hinted at on the conclusion of page 337.  It is slightly concerning, though, that a concrete guide to doing this is not provided.


Savulescu, Julian. and Momeyer, Richard. “Should informed consent be based on rational beliefs?” Arguing About Bioethics. Ed. Stephen Holland. London:   Routledge, 2012. 332. Print.

Article: When Doctors Need to Lie

Here is a related article I found, and wanted to share for providing an interesting read. I believe everyone in our class can benefit, as it places more context about a topic we are now all much better familiar with; paternalism, among others.


“While this is a welcome development, it should not obscure the fact that there is still a place for old-fashioned paternalism in medicine — though the decision to defy a patient’s wishes or withhold information is one of the trickiest that we doctors face.”

Moral Champions

The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics is upon us. This Friday, Sochi, Russia will display its culture and the athletes of the world, to TV sets everywhere.Picture 11

These will not just be any athletes, but the best of the best. Each country will send its top athletes, already national champions, to compete for the top honor of Olympic Champion.

There is more pressure than ever for the sports stars, as now their audience has suddenly grown, not just because of the access from the global stage, but because of the pride and expectations added by each native person taking interest to their country’s representatives for these various events every four years.

One of those expectations is that on top of being super athletes, they are just like you and me, with stories and hardships. Further, it is expected that no enhancement drugs or cheating is done, so we can honor our representatives based on natural talent found in each of our nations.

A moment of analogy which showed just how important “real” people are to the audience occurred during the ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. A beautiful little girl sang in the enormous stadium, angelic and magical, with perfect live sound. However, there was tremendous outrage by the media and public when it was revealed that the girl was not in fact singing herself, and was selected for her preferred cute looks, while the true little girl singing was hidden backstage somewhere, only her voice being admired.

This speaks to our human nature of admiring those who have it all- “beauty and brains” or “a triple threat”.  However, we hate just as much when we are decieved, or learn that they in fact are not like that naturally. Such scandals are coupled with dissapointment that comes with realizing such things are not possible without cheating of some form. We are offended by this branch of injustice. According to the ethical stance of the philosopher Kant, decieving someone (lying to someone) is a way of using the decieved as a means, not as a person. To Kant, the only thing good in and of itself is a good will. This is something that does not depend on the good it brings out, or consequence. It follows that instead of an outcome, we must focus on the intention of performing an act to decide whether or not it is moral.

However, intention is hard to gage as individuals cannot ever truly reveal what they were thinking on the inside, with the full trust of others. Also, everyone will have their own views on which intentions are good. One may think that money is a great motivator while the other disagrees.

While this is a larger problem in ethics, a troubling hint of glossing over the true problem arises in Sandel’s article, “The Case Against Perfection”. Multiple times he argues that enhancement should not be an issue if everyone has access. However, it is very unlikely that equal access would ever be a real thing. Even the most basic needs, such as food and water, are not equally accessible to all humans on our planet today. It is immature of the author to gloss over inequality as a reason that would actually be a problem in attaining perfection. In fact, I believe it is the very reason that should be talked about by ethicists as it could be the strongest realistic case against enhancement.

I believe that a better thesis and prompt for this author is found in the middle of his text, which states, “Under restrictions…do any ethical issues remain that should give us pause?” In this case, he can better support the negative  by using his points of availability and safety. This stretches to affirm good intentions in such  controlled manners, but an even deeper feeling of uneasiness remains. In the case of athletes, if every single olympic competitor was given access to cheat, it could be fair under Sandel’s quick premise,  but definitely unjust to those deceived in actuality. It would be unjust to the audience and kids dreaming to hone their skills, and achieve similar accomplishments on their own.

Works Cited

Kant, Immanuel. “Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.” History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. 313-52. Print.

Sandel, Michael J. “The Case Against Perfection: What’s Wrong with Designer Children, Bionic Athletes, and Genetic Engineering.” Arguing About Bioethics. Ed. Stephen Holland. London: Routledge, 2012. 93-104. Print.