Research Highlights: Gamete Donation, Iris Murdoch and Graceful Death

Here is this week’s final selection of highly rated papers, covering law, religion and social sciences.

Regulating Gamete Donation in the U.S.: Ethical, Legal and Social Implications

Maya Sabatello

This article explores the practice of gamete donation in the U.S. having in mind the larger question of what do we as a society owe children born as a result (donor-conceived children). Do recipient-parents have a duty to tell their donor-conceived child about his/her genetic origins? Should the identity of the donor be disclosed or remain anonymous? Does the child have a right to know her conception story and to receive information, including identifying information, about the donor? Furthermore, if a donor-conceived child has a right to know, who has the duty to tell her/him about it? The Article underscores the ethical, legal and social dilemmas that arise, comparing and contrasting with international developments in this arena. It highlights the market-based and more specific medical justifications for regulating this field, explores the emerging so-called right of the child to know his/her genetic origins (“the right to know”), and considers the challenges such a right evokes to existing legal culture and principles of medical ethics in the U.S. as well as other broader societal implications of such a right.

Images of Reality: Iris Murdoch’s Five Ways from Art to Religion

Elizabeth Burns

Art plays a significant role in Iris Murdoch’s moral philosophy, a major part of which may be interpreted as a proposal for the revision of religious belief. In this paper, I identify within Murdoch’s philosophical writings five distinct but related ways in which great art can assist moral/religious belief and practice: art can reveal to us “the world as we were never able so clearly to see it before”; this revelatory capacity provides us with evidence for the existence of the Good, a metaphor for a transcendent reality of which God was also a symbol; art is a “hall of reflection” in which “everything under the sun can be examined and considered”; art provides us with an analogue for the way in which we should try to perceive our world; and art enables us to transcend our selfish concerns. I consider three possible objections: that Murdoch’s theory is not applicable to all forms of art; that the meaning of works of art is often ambiguous; and that there is disagreement about what constitutes a great work of art. I argue that none of these objections are decisive, and that all forms of art have at least the potential to furnish us with important tools for developing the insight required to live a moral/religious life.

Reconceptualising the Gender of Fitness Doping: Performing and Negotiating Masculinity through Drug-Use Practices

Jesper Andreasson

This article analyses self-portrayals and gender constructions among Swedish male bodybuilders who are engaged in fitness doping. The empirical material comes from a larger ethnographic investigation into gym culture. The results show that there is a strong propensity to conform with particular gender fantasies that rests heavily on a binary understanding of gendered, doped bodies. However, this storyline does not apprehend the entire self-presentation of the analysed drug users. Negotiations and inclusive subversions of traditional gender norms are also expressed. For example, the narratives show how the use of performance-enhancing substances makes it possible for (heterosexual) men to approach, touch and express feelings of desire towards other men and their bodies. As such, this practice can be viewed as a contestation of hegemonic gender values, in which masculinity and fitness doping are detached from a quite heterosexist understanding, and turned into a symbolic world of homoerotic pleasure.

The “A Graceful Death Exhibition”: Portraits and Words from the End of Life

Antonia Rolls

This article discusses the lack of knowledge and awareness that hampers end of life experiences, for both the dying and those left behind. It draws on personal experiences, and explores working creatively with dying people, using observations, painting and writing to communicate ideas. Asking the dying to tell us and show us what it is like is very successful in raising awareness, and the article concludes that less separation within our communities from the dying would normalise the process and lessen the fear.

Posted in Laws, New and Notable, Religions, Social Sciences, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .

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