Sussex police have announced a scheme to fit people suffering from dementia with GPS tracking systems. These small devices will allow police to locate the wearer, and also allow the wearer to reach a 24 hour helpline by pressing a small button on the device. It has been claimed that these devices will save police time and resources, as well as reducing both the potential risk to dementia patients who go missing, and the anxiety that relatives of the missing person will feel when their loved one goes missing.
However, some parties have decried the introduction of this scheme as barbaric and inhumane. For example, Neil Duncan-Jordan, the national officer of the National Pensioners’ Convention, claimed that the scheme serves to stigmatise sufferers of dementia by equating them with people who have committed a criminal act. Continue reading
It was reported yesterday that the Tate gallery has decided to remove prints created by the artist Graham Ovenden following his conviction for child sex offences (on Tuesday 2nd April). Ovenden’s conviction itself raises difficult moral questions which I shall not address here. Ovenden is (or at least was) a celebrated portrait artist; he admitted to taking pictures of and painting nude children in the course of creating his portraiture, claiming that, in doing so, he was aiming to capture children in what he termed their “state of grace”. Although he vigorously denied allegations of paedophilia over the course of the trial, Ovenden was found guilty of six counts of indecency and one count of indecent assault.
There may well be room for debate about whether Ovenden is a paedophile or just a harmless, albeit esoteric, artist. However, I shall not address this question here; I shall assume throughout (rightly or wrongly) that the court is warranted in describing Ovenden as a paedophile. Rather, I am interested in the Tate gallery’s response to the conviction, and more generally, the questions about the nature of art to which it gives rise. Continue reading
In this talk, (which you can listen to here) Neil Levy brings a new perspective to the debate concerning the moral responsibility of psychopaths. Previously, this debate has been thought to turn on the question of whether psychopaths have moral knowledge. Here, Levy argues that regardless of whether psychopaths count as having moral knowledge, we ought to believe that they lack moral responsibility on the grounds that their intentions don’t have the kinds of contents that can underwrite full-blown moral responsibility. Continue reading
Many of us are guilty of sleeping more than we really need to. Moreover, some people just need more sleep than others. In this talk, (which you can listen to here) Alexandre Erler argues that this means that many of us (who sleep excessively) are severely restricting our opportunities for well-being, and that the unfortunate people who need long sleep are significantly restricted in their opportunities for well-being by their need for sleep; in view of this, he argues that more research ought to be carried out into ways in which people might safely be able to restrict their sleep. Continue reading
Salt in the Wound, or the Sweetest Thing? On Placing Legal Limits On the Sugar, Salt and Fat Content of the Foods We Eat.
Last week, in the light of the UK’s growing obesity problem, the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham called for a debate on the question on whether a legal limit ought to be introduced on the amount of sugar,salt and fat that manufacturers can put into the foods that we eat, particularly those foods aimed primarily at children. In calling for such a debate, Mr Burnham pointed out that the obesity epidemic can no longer be ignored, given the challenges that widespread obesity will raise for the NHS. Furthermore, he suggested that the current government’s ‘responsibility deal’ , which aims to tackle the obesity problem by collaborating with food manufacturers to improve food content and labelling, is simply not working. Continue reading
Last week, a website created by MIT student Jin Pan attracted the ire and moral condemnation of media commentators. The website was called ‘Hobojacket’. Its purpose was to give college students a novel way in which to ridicule members of rival colleges; the idea was that people would use the website to pay for jackets bearing a rival college’s logo, jackets which would then be donated to the homeless. This, it was claimed by Pan, would show the “true value” of a degree from the rival college, in (what one must tragically presume) was believed by Pan to be an amusing fashion. Continue reading
Today we learnt that Barack Obama will be the President of the USA for another term. Much of the debate preceding Obama’s election victory focused on how each presidential candidate planned to resuscitate the American economy. Time will tell whether Obama will succeed in this area, and we will be able to debate the merits of his economic strategy in comparison to Romney’s alternative vision over the next four years.
The state of the American economy is, of course, of paramount importance. However, the salience of economic issues in this presidential race should not blind us to the importance of Obama’s re-election (or rather Romney’s non-election) to several other weighty issues in practical ethics. In the light of Obama’s victory and the aforementioned focus on the economy in this election race, it is prudent to remind ourselves of three moral consequences of the election result.