Should abortion be permitted until the fetus's birth? Bioethicist Jacob Appel believes so, arguing that any other guideline is too arbitrary to be legally justifiable, or enforceable. Indeed, his actual "philosophical drawing line" would lie somewhere after birth—though he concedes that in practice "we couldn't live in a world" where this policy existed. Provocative yet matter-of-fact, Appel wades into the moral issues surrounding not only abortion but also infanticide, fetal organ trading, euthanasia, and numerous other medical controversies in his Big Think interview this week.
Acknowledging that concepts such as life and personhood are politically sensitive but philosophically difficult to pin down, Appel believes we should "grant great latitude"to mothers who commit infanticide due to post-partum depression, "treat[ing] them with kindness as someone who suffers from illness." At the other end of life's spectrum, he defends a patient's right to choose physician-assisted suicide but supports euthanasia only "very sparingly," as in cases of permanent paralysis without communication.
In the latter half of the interview, Appel fields questions as an award-winning fiction writer whose career has nevertheless known its share of obstacles: he claims to have received over 20,000 rejections. Asked how to survive that much discouraging feedback, he advises that the trick is to get your work past "the intern or college student first reading your work," recalling that he himself, in his clueless intern days, once hung up on the poet Allen Ginsberg.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.
- The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
- The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
- People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.
- Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
- Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
- British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.
- Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
- Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
- Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.