Francesca Minerva, University of Melbourne

Post-doc fellow at the University of Melbourne

The ideal man is a rich housewife


During the summer, much  research about the nature of attraction
between opposite sexes has been published in various newspapers. I have tried
to make some sense of them. Here I hope to show you the conclusion I have reached
after wading through this stream of information. Since this is a blog on practical
ethics, and I confess that I do believe that we  have some kind of moral obligation to be happy. So, I hope that
readers will find some useful tips for having a more successful and happy relationship.

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Arificial sperm: a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle?

Professor Karim Nayernia and his team at Newcastle University produced sperm cells from embryonic stem cells (here and here)
Italian newspapers ( here and here) (English ones were more restrained here) ran articles about this research claiming that  in the next future men will be not necessary in human reproduction because it will be possible to develop sperm cells from women’s somatic cells, like skin cells.  The fact that women may, sooner or later, be able to reproduce without men’s help did not shock me too much. Reproductive human cloning should allow us to do more or less the same thing: Dolly the sheep was born in 1997, so it’s almost 12 years that we have been aware of this. 

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Happiness is love, full stop?

Recently the Atlantic (see here) published results of a 72-year longitudinal study, known as the Grant Study. The study, led  by psychiatrist George Vaillant, followed the lives of 268 men who entered Harvard University in the late 30s .The goal of the research was to identify a “formula” for a happy and successful life.

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facial transplantation and identity

Newspapers recently showed pictures of two people, a man and a woman, who underwent facial  transplantations after serious accidents disfigured a large part of their faces. Both recipients were satisfied with the result, and they hope they can now resume a normal life, just like the first woman to receive this kind of transplant five years ago.

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An earthquake in the theodicy doctrine

On April 6, a strong earthquake struck several Italian cities, causing hundreds of deaths and destroying thousands of homes.
Such violent and destructive  phenomena always arouse dismay and amazement. Many date the birth of modern atheism to the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. On that occasion Voltaire  wrote his  “Poem on the Lisbon disaster “ in which he  discussed the Leibniz theodicy, that is the problem of justifying the existence of evil and suffering in the world whilst believing at the same time in the  existence of  a good and omnipotent god.

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The weight of conscience


President Obama is about to rescind the “conscience rule” the previous president G. W. Bush had instituted. This clause allows health care workers to refuse to do anything that might conflict with their conscience. This means that doctors, pharmacists and other workers in this field refuse  to provide services or to give information about contraception, blood transfusions, abortions, vaccinations and anything else that they may find morally repugnant.

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In search of lost heterosexuality

“Luca was gay”(in Italy Luca is a male name) is the title of a song that will compete at the next Italian musical festival of Sanremo in few days.
Unluckily the regulation of the competition forbids circulating lyrics and music of the songs before the show begins, but this time the title and some previous public declarations of the singer make it easy to guess what this song is about.

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What if oestradiol could really affect the relationships of highly attractive women?

A recent study at the University of Texas published in the  "Royal Society Journal Biology Letters" suggests a connection in  attractive and young women between  high levels of oestradiol and some peculiar characteristics in mating behaviour.

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Non possumus?

These days the Vatican’s statements sound a bit like a broken record, repeating continuously “Non possumus”. It started at the beginning of December when Benedict XVI refused to support President Sarkozy’s proposal that encourages the governments of the World to decriminalize homosexuality, proposal that should be added to the next UN Declaration of human rights.
It’s worth knowing that in the world more or less eighty countries have rules that punish sexual acts between homosexual people.

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The reason why it’s time to be silent about the Englaro Case

While the right to die has been a prominent topic of discussion in the UK, it has also been exercising Italian courts and media. Eluana Englaro entered in an irreversible vegetative state seventeen years ago, after a car crash.

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