Thu May 24, 2012 - 1:39 pm EST
The worst thing about ethics
Years ago my children used to enjoy hearing Winnie the Pooh’s sidekick, Tigger, sing:
The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things . . .
They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun . . .
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is I’m the only one
There never has been another Tigger. And just as the wonderful thing about Tigger is that he was the only one, the wonderful thing about ethics is that there should only be one standard. Yet, society has created ethics standards that are changing—and it’s telling its members that this is OK. Indeed, that change should happen and that we should embrace it.
As many of us know, there should never be more than one standard of ethics. Yet currently we have a mishmash of ethical frameworks—commonly referred to as bioethics—regulating everything from human embryonic stem cell research to abortion and dying. There is nothing wonderful about this scenario.
While the mainstream media would deny that there is ethical duplicity afoot, an honest mind cannot ignore the documented facts about how America is slowly depersonalizing the individual. The defense of this creeping disregard for the human person comes under the guise of personal faith. What this means in practice is that there are often no right or wrong answers. It’s up to the individual to determine what he/she feels is right or wrong.
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Perhaps such a position is convenient, but is it logical? Whatever happened to objective truth? It is simply easier in today’s culture to deny the existence of natural law ethics in order to justify the heinous acts of others.
Today the gravely ill are invited to sign forms such as the Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST). This is a huge mistake! Research shows that what is being promoted to the patient as a means of determining one’s own fate is, in fact, a method for making certain that death is imposed at a time set by the caregiver, not the patient. Professor E. Christian Brugger has called POLST a “living will on steroids,” and has warned that many who sign it have no idea how powerful the document can be. Not only that, but he suggests that POLST is “fiscally driven” as well.
If money is becoming more important than patient care, whose ethics are these?
In the Journal of Medical Ethics, Catherine Constable argues that those patients who are diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state should not be given artificial nutrition and hydration because she denies that a PVS patient has an “interest” in living. She concludes, “Life cannot benefit them.”
Would she be willing to say that to people who have made miraculous recoveries from this diagnosis, like Steven Thorpe? Or is he just another disinterested dead person?
Whose ethics are these?
In the field of genetics there is an evolving interest in identifying certain genes that cause disabilities in born people so that such people can be “put out of their misery” prior to birth. As Kurt Kondrich, father of precious nine-year-old Down syndrome child Chloe, tells his readers,
When a society obsessed with perfection labels certain unique genetic codes as “risk,” it becomes very easy for people to classify children with disabilities as less than desirable. If [more than] 90 percent of children diagnosed prenatally with autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, schizophrenia, and other language difficulties were terminated, I wonder what the outcry would be. As expectant parents receive more genetic updates, will they become more inclined to abort and try again when they are told their unborn child contains a “risk gene”? As children with disabilities disappear from our culture, then so will the light that they bring to so many.
Again, I ask: Whose ethics are these?
“Converging and emerging technology” professions that today seek to produce superior classes of “people” for the “future,” and subjugate or eliminate those they consider inferior, create their own belief system. Global bioethics organizations based on transhumanism, futurism, technoprogressivism, postnaturalism, etc., find traditional ethics too restrictive when addressing subjects such as “designer babies,” surrogate mothers, “human enhancement,” human genetic engineering, robotics (including part humans/part machines), artificial intelligences, etc. These people are hard at work creating yet another brand of “ethics” to justify such activities.
My final example of this mishmash comes from Slate, which published an article dealing with selective reduction—a practice that involves prenatal abortion of some, but not all, babies. The writer explained, “Ethics, by definition, change with circumstance.” In her view, the decision to choose how many babies should be allowed to live is up to the expectant mother and no one else.
Whose ethics is she writing about?
These ethics, or lack thereof, are of the fungible sort that defy logic and common sense.
Professor Dianne Irving addressed this sad situation by exposing the differences between the muddled bioethics I have noted above versus “an ethics which is objectively grounded on our very human natures, on what we know empirically is either harmful or good for us as human beings.”
The differences are stark.
I believe Tigger had the right idea—that only one is the real deal. He never changed his stripes! In the same way, we must never change our stripes or allow society to change them for us. We must demand fidelity to true ethics that never change. Nothing else will suffice.