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Handling Editor Defends Decision: After – Birth Abortion

By: Prof. Kenneth Boyd, Revd Professor Emeritus of Medical Ethics, Associate Editor, JME

Coming up to me at a meeting the other day, an ethics colleague waved a paper at me. “Have you seen this ?”  she asked,  “It’s unbelievable!” The paper was ‘After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” by two philosophers writing from Australia, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.

Well yes, I agreed, I had seen it: in fact I had been the editor responsible for deciding that it should be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics; and no, I didn’t think it was unbelievable, since I know that arguing strongly for a position with which many people will disagree and some even find offensive, is something that philosophers are often willing, and may even feel they have a duty, to do, in order that their arguments may be tested in the crucible of debate with other philosophers who are equally willing to argue strongly against them.  

Of course for that debate to take place in the Journal of Medical Ethics, many of whose readers, doctors and health care workers as well as philosophers, may well disagree, perhaps strongly, with the paper’s  arguments,  we needed first to make sure that the paper, like any other submitted to the Journal, was of sufficient academic quality for us to publish; and the normal way in which we determine this is to invite academics in relevant disciplines to review the paper critically for us, so that we can eventually make an informed decision about whether or not to publish it, either in its original or (as in this case) a form revised in the light of the reviewers’ reports.

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On Forgiveness

by Charles L. Griswold

(This piece was originally published in “The Stone” series of the New York Times (on-line), on Dec. 26, 2010, and is also available here along with responses by readers.   Thanks to Roger Crisp for inviting me to post it here, and to the NYT for permission. Copyright held by the NYT.)

We are in a season traditionally devoted to good will among people and to the renewal of hope in the face of hard times.  As we seek to realize these lofty ideals, one of our greatest challenges is overcoming bitterness and divisiveness.  We all struggle with the wrongs others have done to us as well as those we have done to others, and we recoil at the vast extent of injury humankind seems determined to inflict on itself.  How to keep hope alive?  Without a constructive answer to toxic anger, addictive cycles of revenge, and immobilizing guilt, we seem doomed to despair about chances for renewal.  One answer to this despair lies in forgiveness.

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Special Guest Blog – The problem of militarism

by Tony Coady

Israel’s decision to institute an inquiry into the military misadventure with the flotilla attempting to break its blockade of Gaza and its subsequent partial relaxation of restrictions on aid to Gaza represent grudging concessions to international outrage about the flotilla episode. Any recognition by Israel that its military policies are offensive to so many in the outside world is surely welcome. But the flotilla episode will be misunderstood if it is seen only as a failure in public relations or an instance of military mismanagement. Certainly it constitutes both of these since it has badly damaged Israel’s image throughout the world and alienated its few friends in the region as well as called into question the competence of its much-vaunted armed forces. But there is a deeper lesson to this tragic fiasco and that concerns the influence and failings of the spirit of militarism.

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