Volume 24, Issue 1 (2016)
Toward an Account of Relational Autonomy in Healthcare and Treatment Settings
by Simone Lee Joannou
Currently held conceptions of autonomy that inform biomedicine are inadequate and oppressive. Liberal notions of individualism are anti-humanist and constitute pernicious socialization, which leads to internalized oppression and dehumanization, especially among already oppressed groups. Women in recovery from addiction and other mental illnesses are especially affected by anti-humanist conceptions of autonomy. I argue that these women need to receive treatment that supports autonomy through supplementing psychiatric and rehabilitative therapy with humanistic education and group therapy. Treatment must encourage the construction of healthy social interaction that augments a sense of supported autonomy.
Humanism, Illness, and Elective Death: A Case Study in Utilitarian Ethics
By James A. Metzger
The author offers a defense for elective death on utilitarian grounds, but one that is presented specifically from the perspective of someone who: 1) faces a potentially terminal illness and diminishing quality of life; 2) views death as nothing more than a return to prenatal nonbeing; and 3) maintains common humanist ethical commitments. The argument, then, is uniquely situated and limited in scope, rooted both in the particulars of his recent experience with illness and in a worldview shaped largely by emerging narratives in the sciences. Drawing upon the work of J.S. Mill and P. Singer, the author begins by assuming that one is generally free to act on a preference for nonbeing so long as others are not unduly harmed or thwarted in pursuing their own aims as a result. But a humanist, he argues, is encouraged to press beyond this minimum criterion and do one’s best to maximize eudaimonia by carefully weighing how elective death would likely affect others to whom one is currently obligated in significant ways. The focus of one’s ethical reasoning, then, should remain on maximizing well-being, not on creating a logical flawless and internally coherent defense that may satisfy a set of generic or universally applicable criteria drawn up by professional philosophers in an effort to define precisely what might render a given suicide “rational” or “morally permissible.”
Grievance and Shame in the Modern Age of Entitlement
By James A. Montanye
Philosophers since Plato have questioned whether might makes right, and whether the weak are condemned perforce to suffer at the hands of strong, cunning, and ruthless elites and majorities. This essay argues that communicative and strategic uses of grievance, shame, “bullshit,” collective action, and economic rent seeking (“entitlement seeking”) mitigate conventional forms of social might, thereby helping the weak and the few (that is, modern social minorities) to prosper and flourish despite their inferior strength, numbers, and social status. The argument is supported empirically by macroeconomic and ngram (“word frequency”) data.
Addressing Microaggressions and Epistemic Injustice: Flourishing from the Work of Audre Lorde
By Mark Tschaepe
Microaggressions cause epistemic injustice and prevent human flourishing. As a step toward the recognition of microaggressions as sources of epistemic injustice and their remedy as a source for flourishing, I propose active engagement with narratives that present cases of microaggressions as they are contextualized in experience. The poet, essayist, and mythobiographer, Audre Lorde, provides contextualized narratives that express experiences of microaggressions from multiply intersectional and humanistic perspectives. Lorde’s work is an ideal source for actively engaging with experiences of microaggressions and epistemic injustice from a practical, humanist perspective. I argue that Lorde provides useful tools that assist in acknowledging, addressing, and remedying epistemic injustice. Her work suggests uses of anger through reconstruction and receptivity to difference that facilitates human flourishing.
The Philosophical Basis of “Transhumanist” Politics: Analyzing the future of transhumanist ideology based on the book The Transhumanist Wager
By Roland Benedikter, Katja Siepmann and Annabella McIntosh
Transhumanism conceives itself as the next phase of humanism, postulating to leave behind most of its allegedly outdated features and paradigms. To that purpose, transhumanism has recently developed its own philosophy to get to a concrete social ideology, on which political action can be based. This philosophy has been first concentrated in a number one New York Times bestseller, The Transhumanist Wager (2013). We discuss the basic elements of the social philosophy of transhumanism in its attempt to overcome traditional humanism both in the social sphere and in politics, including the innovative elements and the contradictions inbuilt in its current self-concept and thought.