Lisa Guenther on solitary confinement

Lisa Guenther of Vanderbilt recently published an incisive column in The New York Times’ The Stone entitled “The Living Death of Solitary Confinement.” Check it out! Her book, Social Death and Its Afterlives: A Critical Phenomenology of Solitary Confinement, is forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press.

Lisa would like this post to be read together with an alternative version – to do so, click here.

Kelly Oliver also recently published an item for this series, “Pet Lovers Pathologized” – her work in this area just earned her a coveted faculty research award from Chancellor Zeppos!

Congratulations to both Lisa & Kelly!


editor-in-chief of JME wants to engineer “ethical” babies

Julian Savulescu, editor-in-chief of the prestigious Journal of Medical Ethics and director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, has recently reiterated his argument that using genetic engineering to create morally improved babies is an ethical obligation for all parents.

But how does Savulescu know that genetic intervention will improve individual morality? To Savulescu, the answers are simple: eliminate traits connected to–for instance–alcoholism, bad temper, and violence, and select for traits connected to altruism and cooperation. But his views may betray an unwitting commitment to genetic determinism.

From a recent article: “Parents, he argues, have a responsibility to society to select for ‘ethically better children,’ likening these screening [sic] for the ones already in place for Down’s syndrome and cystic fibrosis.”

For those already critical of the astronomical rates of selection against persons with Down syndrome, this parallel is no help.

My dissertation, especially the second chapter, engages and critiques Savulescu’s specific endorsements of genetic selection for the purposes of human enhancement.

Read more about Savulescu’s recent statements.