Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Binocularity in bioethics—and beyond

Earp, B. D., & Hauskeller, M. (in press). Binocularity in bioethics—and
beyond. American Journal of Bioethics, in press.


Parens (2015) defends a habit of thinking he calls “binocularity,” which involves switching between analytical lenses (much as one must switch between seeing the duck vs. the rabbit in Wittgenstein’s famous example). Applying this habit of thought to a range of debates in contemporary bioethics, Parens urges us to acknowledge the ways in which our personal intuitions and biases shape our thinking about contentious moral issues. In this review of Parens’s latest book, we reflect on our own position as participants in the so-called “enhancement” debates, where a binocular approach could be especially useful. In particular, we consider the case of “love drugs,” a subject on which we have sometimes reached very different conclusions. We finish with an analogy to William James’s (1907) distinction between “tenderminded” rationalists and “tough-minded” empiricists, and draw some general lessons for improving academic discourse.

The paper is here.