Life Studies Blog (Old)

February 23, 2004

Dehistoricization of ethics

I attended the Tsukuba conference, and gave a presentation on "life studies approaches to medical ethics." I talked about Japanese feminist Mitsu Tanaka and a Japanese disabled group "Blue Grass Group" in the 1970s. Professor Jennifer Robertson at University of Michigan commented that my presentation on Mitsu Tanaka seemed to lack a "historical" point of view. I learned a lot from her comment and her theory of "dehistoricization" of "East Asian or Japanese" bioethics.

By the way, an interesting conference will be held at University of Pennsylvania, USA.

Going Too Far: Rationalizing Unethical Medical Research in Japan, Germany, and the United States

Wednesday, April 28 - Saturday, May 1, 2004

Never before has a group of international scholars gathered to candidly discuss ways in which, both during and after World War II, unethical research was carried out by Japanese, German, and American medical teams. This conference will focus on that deeply disturbing history and on how such research was rationalized. It will also examine how academic inquiries such as this can shed light on why today's "advanced" societies can readily fall into the trap of justifying research that, upon analysis, appears to go "too far." The topic is timely, and it will be treated by renowned experts on these matters.

From Japan Prof. Miho Ogino Prof. Yoshihiko Komatsu Prof. Susumu Shimazono Prof. Kei'ichi Tsuneishi Prof. Tetsuo Yamaori
From Germany Prof. Till Bastian Prof. Gernot Bohme Prof. Benno Muller-Hill Prof. Rolf Winau Prof. G. Cameron Hurst
From the United States Prof. Arthur L. Caplan Prof. Frederick R. Dickinson Prof. Eric Feldman Prof. Renee C. Fox Prof. William R. LaFleur Prof. M. Susan Lindee Prof. Jonathan D. Moreno
Wonderful participants.

Photo: A view from a hotel window.

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February 12, 2004

Tsukuba Roundtable

I am going to attend TRT bioethics conference tomorrow. I have been preparing for my presentation, and now finally it's finished. I haven't slept enough, but I have to proctor an examination tomorrow morning, and attend meetings after that, and at night I will take a Shinkansen express train to go to Tokyo, stay at a hotel in Tokyo, and get up very early to take a bus for Tsukuba, and give a presentation before noon....

Photo: ------ What's this?

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February 01, 2004

Van Rensselaer Potter's idea

I got flu and have been resting for a week, but I am fine now. I was rinsing my mouth everyday, but virus was more powerful than me. While in bed I was thinking again about the explanation of "life studies" and "philosophy of life." I decided to rewrite it as soon as possible because I found that the explanation did not fully reflect the idea I have in mind.

By the way, the fifth printing of
Painless Civilization will be coming this month. This book seems to be accepted to a Japanese audience, especially young people. The publisher says it sells well in college bookstores. Good news.

And I found an interesting article on bioethics. Peter J. Whitehouse, M.D., Ph.D. "
The Rebirth of Bioethics: Extending the Original Formulations of Van Rensselaer Potter" (The American Journal of Bioethics, Volume 3 Number 4). Professor Whitehouse insists that American bioethics should transform itself based on Van Rensselaer Potter's idea on global bioethics. I asserted a similar claim in my first book, An Invitation to the Study of Life, 1988. It is curious to see how Whitehouse's argument will be accepted (or ignored). I believe there are lots of people who are frustrated by contemporary bioethics as a discipline.

Photo: Foliage on a table

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