Past Events

EGR Past events

Why Families Matter
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 12:15pm

Video recording

Hilde Lindemann, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Michigan State University
Co-sponsored with University of Minnesota Department of Family Social Science and Medical School, Department of Pediatrics

Treatment decisions are not always guided by what is in the best interests of a pediatric patient is not in doubt: consider the very badly damaged baby whose parents painfully decide they must not consent to a costly course of treatments involving repeated hospitalizations that might prolong the infant’s life another year or two, because they live a half-day’s journey from the hospital and have three other young children at home. Such decisions have been defended by considering important interests of parents or siblings or sometimes grandparents that are taken to override the interests of the pediatric patient. Less ethical attention, however, has been paid to what is owed families—considered, not merely as the sum total of the individuals within them, but as morally valuable entities in themselves. Professor Lindemann found the exclusion of the family’s perspective from healthcare ethics peculiar, very widespread, and in need of remedy. In this talk she identified what is instrumentally and intrinsically valuable about a pediatric patient’s family, and argued that the family’s integrity, and therefore its goodness and soundness, can be put at risk when health care professionals make too many demands, or the wrong kind of demands, on it.

Ashley Revisited: Growth Attenuation and Children with Severe Developmental Disabilities
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 12:15pm

Video recording

Douglas Diekema, MD, MPH, Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Ethics, Seattle, WA

Co-sponsored with University of Minnesota Medical School, Department of Pediatrics and Medical School, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health

Dr. Diekema discussed the case of “Ashley X”, a young girl with severe developmental delay whose parents requested treatment to attenuate her growth, a hysterectomy, and removal of her breast buds. He discussed the ethical reasoning in support providing those interventions, potential objections to the interventions, and implications for other similar cases.

Re-engineering Ethics: The Need for Ethical Innovation at the Convergence of Engineering and the Life Science
Friday, October 18, 2013 - 12:15pm

Video recording

Leili Fatehi, JD, University of Minnesota

Rapid advances in emerging fields of science and technology such as nanobiotechnology, genetic engineering, synthetic biology, and tissue engineering have vast potential in biomedical applications by enabling previously unimaginable abilities to control and alter biological processes and living systems. At the same time, these emerging fields present novel ethical challenges that are addressed by neither traditional biomedical ethics nor by traditional engineering ethics. The lecture addressed these ethical challenges emerging from the convergence of engineering and the life sciences, including disciplinary differences and gaps in how ethical implications and responsibilities are taught, perceived, approached, and institutionalized

Moral Distress Among Physicians: A Challenge to Authenticity and Practice
Friday, May 10, 2013 - 12:15pm

Video recording

John Song, MD, MPH, MAT, University of Minnesota

Co-sponsored with University of Minnesota, Medical School and School of Nursing

Moral distress when used in the health care context is defined by Jameton as resulting when the morally correct action is known, but institutional constraints make it nearly impossible to pursue the right course of action. This concept has been explored in nursing with vigor. However, little attention has been paid to it by the other health disciplines. The talk introduced the concept as applied to the medical field and the argument for much greater attention to this potentially erosive and destructive force among physicians. Why might this be relevant? A (morally) sad doctor is a bad doctor.

Happiness is a Warm Gun: Bioethics and Gun Policy
Friday, May 3, 2013 - 10:45am

Video recording

Steven Miles, MD, University of Minnesota

Co-sponsored with University of Minnesota, School of Public Health

Gun violence is a public health problem in terms of causing deaths and injuries. Having a gun in the house is a risk factor for death or injury. Health professionals commonly assess for risk factors (biological, like cholesterol), behavioral (like using seat belts). Does clinical ethics (rules for how practitioners act) have a legitimate role to play in reducing gun violence?

The Search For Consciousness: Detecting Awareness in the Vegetative State
Friday, April 5, 2013 - 12:15pm

Adrian Owen, University of Western Ontario

Sponsored by Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science; Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts; College of Liberal Arts; and Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota

The vegetative state is one of the least understood and most ethically troublesome conditions in modern medicine. It is a rare disorder in which patients who emerge from a coma appear to be awake, but show no signs of awareness. In recent years, we have introduced a number of new methods that have revealed covert signs of awareness in up to 20% of physically non-responsive vegetative state patients. In some cases, these methods have even allowed patients to communicate with the outside world for the first time since their injuries. These findings have profound implications for clinical care, diagnosis, prognosis and medical-legal decision-making after severe brain injury, but also present many new ethical challenges for both scientists and physicians. By reflecting on our experiences with a cohort of physically non-responsive (yet covertly conscious) patients and their families, Dr. Owen discussed these ethical challenges and, where possible, suggest evidence-based solutions.

Navigating the Future: Governance and Ethics in the Development of the Emerging Technologies
Friday, April 5, 2013 - 12:15pm

Wendell Wallach, Yale University

Sponsored with The Initiative on Governance of Emerging Technological Systems (iGETS), Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs; Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota 

The Bioethics of Clinical Trials for Tuberculosis Vaccines and Drugs
Friday, November 9, 2012 - 12:15pm


Susan Craddock, PhD, University of Minnesota

Resisting Health Reform: State Insurance Exchanges and The Republican Dilemma
Friday, October 26, 2012 - 12:15pm

Jonathan Oberlander, PhD, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Sponsored by Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health; and Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota

Wet House Debate
Friday, April 20, 2012 - 12:15pm


William C. Moyers, Hazelden; and John Petroskas, Catholic Charities of St. Paul & Minneapolis