After Planning

Thirty years ago, Lucy Suchman’s Plans and Situated Actions reminded us of the limits of our ability to control outcomes by careful, thoughtful planning. She analyzed the utter failure of early “smart” photocopiers to help people make copies. The designers and programmers of these “smart” . . . . Continue Reading »

A Grim Harvest

Upon learning of his son’s fatal heart disease, a father arranges to donate his own heart in order to save his son’s life. The surgery will result in his death; his son will learn of it only after the fact. Should the hospital administrators allow the surgery to proceed?Ethicist Paul Ramsey . . . . Continue Reading »

A “Merciless Assault on Human Dignity”

In Ontario today, doctors who decline to euthanize their patients are required to provide an “effective referral”: They are obliged, on pain of losing their license to practice, to send a troubled patient to a doctor of lighter conscience who will kill that patient. Cardinal Collins is fighting this abomination. Continue Reading »

A Guide Through the Thicket

For some time now, First Things has sought to bring Catholics and evangelicals together. Richard John Neuhaus, Charles Colson, and their fellow travelers have engaged in an fruitful ecumenism of the trenches, discovering as they went along that they had more in common than they knew, particularly with respect to Christian ethics and the church’s public witness. And much though not all of First Things’ work has been in the service of a religiously informed “public philosophy,” seeking to find a common language for perennial truths about marriage, life, freedom, and other issues in the public square. Continue Reading »

Heart's Knowledge

Disability, Providence, and Ethics: Bridging Gaps, Transforming Lives
 by hans s. reinders 
baylor, 248 pages, $49.95 What sort of world do we live in? Is it a world of chance and fortune without meaning? When bad things happen, an accident or an illness, is it only bad luck? Or is there a . . . . Continue Reading »

Euthanasia's Cancerous Corruption of Medical Morality

During World War II, German doctors euthanized disabled babies and adults. As Robert Jay Lifton reported in The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, no one forced these doctors to kill. Many of them believed euthanasia to be a “healing treatment” that ended “unlivable” lives, liberated families from the burden of caregiving, and kept the country from “wasting” scarce resources on the lebensunwertes leben(“life unworthy of life”). Such was the fruit of years of utilitarian indoctrination and the resulting societal acceptance of eugenics ideology.At the time, Netherlander doctors were well aware that German medical ethics had devolved. Thus, when the German commander of the occupation, Arthur Seyss-Inquart (now known as “the Butcher of Holland”), commanded that Dutch medical practices adjust to the German way, Netherlander doctors courageously defied the order. Continue Reading »