Ghosting

 Posted by on 15 July 2015 at 10:00 am  Ethics, Etiquette, Psychology, Relationships
Jul 152015
 

This article — Exes Explain Ghosting, the Ultimate Silent Treatment — is fascinating discussion of “ghosting,” which “refers to ending a romantic relationship by cutting off all contact and ignoring the former partner’s attempts to reach out.” Check out the follow-up too.

I’ve never had this happen in a romantic relationship, but my once-best-friend ghosted me a few years ago. We’d grown apart when she moved across the country, such that we were only talking every few months, but we were still on friendly terms. Then we reconnected in an intense in-person conversation when she happened to be in town, at a time when I was really, really struggling. We promised to talk again in a week… and she just disappeared. I called and emailed repeatedly but I never heard from her again.

The whole thing was very painful for me, and I wasn’t the only friend that she dropped in such a fashion. All of us knew her for years, and none of us expected that she’d ever do that to us. At least we saw clearly (after a while) that the problem resided squarely with her, not us. Still, I can feel the hurt in everyone that I’ve spoken to about it.

Truly, ghosting has got to be the most hurtful and destructive way to end a relationship with a friend or lover, hands down. Speaking personally, I’d much rather come home to find a lover in bed with someone else. That, at least, is comprehensible.

What I find so interesting is that the ghosters seem to think that what they’re doing is easy and clean and neat for everyone… and wow, are they ever full of shit. The only case discussed that I would regard as justified is the woman who ghosted the husband that she discovered was cheating on her left and right. Cases in which a person flees a relationship that is dangerous or abusive… well, that’s not “ghosting.” In those cases, the person ghosted knows damn well why the other person disappeared, even if he/she pretends otherwise.

Notably, some of those stories in the follow-up article are not “ghosting” — and I suspect that’s because the writer didn’t want to make the ghosters seem like the worse freaking people on the planet.

Basically, if you don’t have the psychological capacity to end a relationship in an honest or respectful way… if you can’t even say to the person, “Sorry, but I just can’t do this any more: it’s over,” then you have no business being in any kind of close friendship or romantic relationship.

Inside an Abortion Clinic

 Posted by on 3 June 2015 at 10:00 am  Abortion, Ethics, Law
Jun 032015
 

From Working at an abortion clinic challenged my pro-choice views — and confirmed them:

All of [the women at the clinic] had their reasons for not wanting to carry their pregnancy to term.

And there were some who never thought it would happen to them, like the one who sat across from me, her long blond hair pushed back with a hairband. Her eyes were curt as she tried to look everywhere but at me.

“I don’t even believe in abortion,” she finally told me. “I’m Catholic.”

“Then why are you here?” I said.

“My family would freak out if they knew I was pregnant. My boyfriend and I aren’t married.” She folded her arms. “Honestly, I don’t know how you can do this job.”

“I do it because I believe that women should have a clean and safe place to go if they have an unplanned pregnancy and it’s not a good time for them to have a baby,” I said.

She didn’t really have a response. And she went through with the abortion. I always wondered if she was grateful to at least have a hygienic place with a respectful and non-judgmental staff to turn to in her predicament, or if she struggles to this day with the choice she made, or both.

Read the whole thing.

Apr 162015
 

Here’s an interesting philosophical question, raised indirectly by philosopher Iskra Fileva on Facebook:

If a person refrains from doing a wrong act due to some wrong motive, does that person count as self-controlled (in Aristotle’s sense) or not?

For example, a married man wants to have an affair with a co-worker but he refrains — not because he’s pledged his fidelity to his wife, but due to fear of social disapproval if the affair is revealed because she’s black/Jewish/older/Catholic/wiccan/whatever.

I don’t think that this counts as self-control (a.k.a. continence) because the person is ignorant of and/or blind to the relevant moral considerations. On Aristotle’s descending moral scale from virtuous to self-controlled to un-self-controlled to vicious (explained briefly here), he’s in the vicious category, even though he happens not to have done the immoral act of cheating on his wife.

This is why — as I argue in my book on moral luck — we need to distinguish between judgments of actions, outcomes, and character. These judgments identify different facts and serve different purposes. A person can still be of vicious character, yet not perform any immoral acts. (At least, that can happen in the short term. Long-term, bad acts are pretty darn likely.) That’s only a puzzle if we’re not clear about the various purposes and bases of our various kinds of moral judgments.

Belief in Karma in Action

 Posted by on 27 March 2015 at 10:00 am  Ethics, Luck, Medicine
Mar 272015
 

Back in December, I answered a question about the reality of karma on Philosophy in Action Radio. If you’ve not yet heard it, you can listen to or download the relevant segment of the podcast here:

Then, some weeks ago, Robert Garmong sent me a tidbit from this article — Shock and Anger in Cambodian Village Struck With H.I.V. — relevant to karma:

The villagers’ affection for the doctor does not blunt their pain and bewilderment over the mass infection. Prum Em, Ms. Yao’s 84-year-old husband, stares with blank incomprehension when asked about the infections, which struck across three generations.

“I have done only good deeds my whole life,” he said. “It’s inconceivable that the family could have this much bad luck.”

Robert Garmong added:

There’s no specific evidence that this is what happened, but it could easily have been the case that this man’s family members intentionally took risky injections because “my family has only done good deeds, so surely the downside risk won’t happen to me.” I doubt that’s what happened, because there’s no evidence that the people even knew they were taking a risk. But the point remains. By messing with people’s rational calculations, the concept of “karma” leads in principle to self-destructive thinking.

Excellent example!

The Vaccination Debate

 Posted by on 21 February 2015 at 10:00 am  Ethics, Medicine, Parenting, Politics, Rights
Feb 212015
 

I’ve been slightly appalled by the way that the debate over vaccination has proceeded of late — particularly in the belligerent peddling of misinformation and calls for government controls. (I’ve seen that on all sides, unfortunately.) Alas, that’s to be expected when sick kids are involved. In any case, because I’m answering a question on Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Radio about whether people have an obligation to vaccinate purely for the sake of herd immunity, I thought that I’d compile some links for reading in advance.

A word of warning, first. As you’ll see, these links are from a variety of perspectives, and I’m not vouching for them. You shouldn’t assume that I agree with them. They’re just to help inform you about the debate.

Also, I answered a question about compulsory vaccination on the 3 August 2014 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. If you’ve not yet heard it, you should listen to or download the relevant segment of the podcast before Sunday’s broadcast. It’s here:

For more details, check out the question’s archive page.

And with that… see you on Sunday!

 

Despite the defeats of “personhood” measures in 2008 and 2010, Colorado voters will once again vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to grant all the rights of born persons to zygotes, embryos, and fetuses in November 2014.

The Coalition for Secular Government is pleased to announce an updated and expanded paper on the “personhood” movement by Ari Armstrong and myself, titled “The ‘Personhood’ Movement Versus Individual Rights: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception.” The paper is currently available for download as a PDF or for reading as an HTML page.

Formats: HTML / PDF

Please share it with friends and on social media!

Here’s our media release on it:

New Paper Criticizes “Personhood” Movement and Colorado’s Amendment 67
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Coalition for Secular Government: http://www.SecularGovernment.us

A new paper criticizes the “personhood” movement and Colorado’s Amendment 67, a measure that would treat abortion as murder under the law; outlaw abortion even in cases of rape, incest, risks to a woman’s health, and severe fetal deformity; outlaw some types of birth control; outlaw common forms of in vitro fertility treatments; and ban embryonic stem-cell research.

The 54-page paper, coauthored by Diana Hsieh and Ari Armstrong, offers extensive historical and scientific background on the “personhood” movement, abortion, and related matters. The paper also offers philosophic arguments supporting a woman’s right to seek an abortion.

“Amendment 67 is extremely misleading in its language,” Hsieh said. “The proponents of the measure apparently want voters to believe that it is about protecting pregnant women from vicious criminal attacks, but the reality is that the measure would treat women as murderers for getting an abortion or even for using certain types of birth control or in vitro fertility treatments.”

Amendment 67 seeks to extend full legal protections to “unborn human beings,” which its sponsors define as all embryos from the moment of conception.

As the new paper discusses, Colorado law already establishes criminal penalties for harming a pregnant woman’s embryo or fetus against her consent.

If you have any questions about the paper, please email me.

 

My latest Forbes column was posted on 9/29/2014, “Who Decides What Medical Care You Receive At End of Life?

I discuss how some patients in the socialized medical systems of Canada and the UK have been put on DNR (“do not resuscitate”) status without their knowledge or consent and how that ties to the current debate over government-funded end-of-life counseling here in the US.

As I’ve said before: If you expect “somebody else” to pay for your health care, then “somebody else” will ultimately decide what care you may (or may not) receive.

I also discuss how free-market reforms for health insurance can allow patients to retain control over their end-of-life medical decision making and protect Americans from those gut-wrenching problems faced by patients in Canada and the UK.

And for some excellent practical advice on how patients can plan for such eventualities, check out this interview with Dr. William Dale by Diana.

 

 

Should You Punish Your Kids?

 Posted by on 23 September 2014 at 10:00 am  Ethics, Parenting, Rights
Sep 232014
 

Why Do People Hit Their Kids? Failure, that’s why:

Now, this is the part where I point out that study after study after study has proven that corporal punishment—even a light spanking—does not work. At all. Corporal punishment makes kids sullen, violent, and angry. I know this because I have dabbled in corporal punishment with my own children, particularly my oldest kid. (Poor first children are always the beta kids: The kids parents fuck up with the most before applying better techniques to their younger siblings.) I have tried spanking the kid, and giving the kid a light smack on the head, and threatening the kid. My dad spanked me once or twice as a child. That’s it. I don’t even remember it, really. And yet I’ve probably tried more ways of physically correcting my child than he ever did. And the reason I tried all of these methods is because I am a failure.

That’s what corporal punishment is. It’s a failure. It’s a complete breakdown of communication between parent and child. Children are unpredictable, reckless, and occasionally violent. They can drive otherwise rational humans into fits of rage. And I have had moments—many moments, certainly—where I have felt that rage after exhausting every last possible idea to get them to behave: bribery, timeouts, the silent treatment, walking away (they follow you!), distraction, throwing the kids outside (they end up ringing the doorbell a lot), you name it. So I have tried corporal punishment as a final resort, a desperate last stab at closure. That’s an easy way for parents to justify it: You forced me to do this, child. Spanking the kid did nothing for me. It only made me realize what a fucking failure I was. Oh, and the kid still kept yelling.

Spanking and beating your kid teaches your kid to talk with violence. It validates hitting as a legitimate form of communication. Everything is modeled. I have yelled at my kids, and then seen them yell. I have smacked my kid, and then watched her smack someone else. They don’t learn to be good from any of it. They don’t learn to sit still and practice piano sonatas. All they learn is, Hey, this works! And then they go practice what you just preached. Beating a kid creates an atmosphere of toxicity in a house that lingers forever: One beating leads to the next, and to the next, and to the next, until parents don’t even know why they’re beating the kid anymore. They just do. Once it is normalized, it takes root. Parents begin to like the habit. Those pictures of Peterson’s kid? The violence can get worse … much worse … so much worse it’s astonishing.

Go read the whole thing. The honesty of the piece is refreshing, to say the least.

As it happens, I answered a question about corporal punishment of kids on the 24 June 2012 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. If you’ve not yet heard it, you can listen to or download the relevant segment of the podcast here:

For more details, check out the question’s archive page.

Then, if you’re one of those parents wonder what the heck you should do if you can’t physically discipline your kids, check out my interview with Jenn Casey and Kelly Elmore about “Parenting without Punishment” on the 27 June 2012 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. If you’ve not yet heard it, you can listen to or download the podcast here:

For more details, check out the episode’s archive page.

The Profit Motive: Not Always Good

 Posted by on 19 September 2014 at 10:00 am  Ethics, Government, Medicine
Sep 192014
 

This is a horrifying story: Cancer doc admits scam, giving patients unneeded chemo. This doctor gave unnecessary chemotherapy — basically, he poisoned his patients — for money. (The profit motive is usually a tremendous force for good… but not always.)

Here’s the bright spot in this morally bleak story — the nurse who turned him in as soon as she saw (in a job interview) him doing wrong:

Angela Swantek, a chemotherapy nurse who blew the whistle on Fata to state authorities in 2010, was in the courtroom during Fata’s guilty plea. She said she was relieved to hear him admit to things she witnessed years ago in his office. “I’m numb,” she said in a court hallway. “I’m not surprised though; I wondered how his team was going to defend him. The charts don’t lie.”

Swantek, 45, of Royal Oak, said she went to Fata’s office for a job interview in 2010 when she saw patients getting chemotherapy in a manner that wasn’t correct. “I left after an hour and half. I thought this is insane,” she said. That same day, Swantek went home and wrote a letter to the state and suggested they investigate him.

According to Swantek, the state did nothing and notified her in 2011 that they had found no wrongdoing. “I handed them Dr. Fata on a platter in 2010 and they did absolutely nothing,” said Swantek, noting she was elated when she learned the federal government charged Fata in 2013.

“I started crying,” she said. “I thought about all of the patients he took care of and harmed.”

Kudos to her for reporting him to the authorities, rather than just walking away. If only those authorities had done their job…

 

My latest Forbes column is now up: “UK To Experiment on Cardiac Arrest Patients Without Their Consent“.

Here is the opening:

Soon, thousands of UK cardiac arrest patients may find themselves enrolled in a major medical experiment, without their consent. This may be legal. But is it ethical?

As described by the Telegraph:

“Paramedics will give patients whose heart has stopped a dummy drug as part of an ‘ethically questionable’ study into whether adrenalin works in resuscitation or not… Patients in cardiac arrest will receive either a shot of adrenalin, which is the current practice, or a salt water placebo but the patient, their relatives nor the paramedic administering it will know which. The trial is seen to be controversial because patients will not be able to consent to taking part and could receive a totally useless placebo injection…”

First, I want to emphasize that this is a legitimate scientific question. Adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) has been a standard part of the resuscitation protocol for sudden cardiac arrest, along with chest compressions and electrical shocks. (Think of paramedics shouting “clear” on television medical dramas.) But more recent evidence suggests that adrenaline might cause more harm than good in this situation, helping start the heart but possibly also causing some neurological damage. There is a valid and important scientific question. My concern is not over the science behind the experiment, but rather the ethics…

(For more details and discussion, read the full text of “UK To Experiment on Cardiac Arrest Patients Without Their Consent“.)

There are two parts of the study that disturb me the most: (1) The drug trial itself, and (2) the decision to not actively inform relatives that any patient who died had been an involuntary participant.  I cover both aspects in more detail in the piece.

Note: I’m not fully settled on what (if any) experimentation should be allowed on incapacitated patients in an emergency setting without informed consent.  But I do think this should be an issue of active discussion, especially for the people whose lives are on the line.

And for a discussion of prior US medical experiments that have been alleged to be unethical, non-consensual, or illegal, see this Wikipedia list.

 

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