Tom Shakely

Research Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism

Archives

Autonomy, Ezekiel Emanuel, and the Limits of Advance Directives

One of the lessons (wrong, it turns out) that Americans took from the Terri Schiavo fight goes something like this: “What made Terri’s situation so tragic was that she didn’t have a “living will,” an advance directive. If she had only had one of those, everything would have worked out fine.” Advance directives, more commonly called “living wills,” are simple enough documents. Aging with Dignity is just one of many organizations that offers a “simple” advance directive. You run through a list of treatments or care you do or do not want to receive in the future, putting pen to paper, and viola! — you can now rest easy knowing your wishes will be respected should you no longer be Read More ›

China, the Virus, and the Imperative to Build for Tomorrow

Marc Andreessen’s “It’s Time To Build” is a hopeful cri de coeur in this time of pandemic. Americans, and American elite leadership specifically, need what strikes me as essentially a spiritual awakening, and Andreessen speaks to that in his own way by pointing out that an ugly aspect of American life that this virus has revealed is a sort of cultural impotence: Every Western institution was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, despite many prior warnings. This monumental failure of institutional effectiveness will reverberate for the rest of the decade, but it’s not too early to ask why, and what we need to do about it. Many of us would like to pin the cause on one political party or another, Read More ›

Bloomberg: A Patient’s Care is ‘Futile’ if We Decide the Patient Has Little Value

Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is over, but I want to return to something Bloomberg once said that was brought up by reporter Peter Hasson during Bloomberg’s most recent campaign that speaks to a fundamental issue in healthcare issue: Billionaire and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said in a 2011 video that some elderly cancer patients should be denied treatment in order to cut health care costs. He drew on a hypothetical example of a “95-year old” with “prostate cancer” to signal an openness he would have to reform how Medicare provides treatment. “All of these costs keep going up, nobody wants to pay any more money, and at the rate we’re going, health care is going to bankrupt us,” said Read More ›

Making Something Lawful Creates a Market for It

The Australian state of Victoria made it lawful to commit assisted suicide last year. The number of those who have killed themselves since “voluntary assisted dying” became legal is more than four times higher than the Victorian government had anticipated. Xavier Symons reports : The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board’s first Report of Operations, released on Tuesday, provides information on how Victoria’s euthanasia legislation is being enacted, including details of how many people have been issued with a ‘VAD permit’, as well as information on some of the barriers preventing people from accessing the scheme.  According to the report, permits to access the lethal medication were issued to 70 patients between June 19, when the scheme first started, and December 31. Overall Read More ›

Suicide Prevention Means Rejecting Suicide Assistance

A friend calls you up to let you know that she’s thinking of ending her life. What do you tell her? She’s getting older and has experienced a life-threatening (but not terminal) condition for many years. She feels beaten down, alone, and like she’s too great a burden for those who were once closest to her, but who’ve generally stopped visiting in recent years. She’s looking to you for good counsel. If you’re like most, you wouldn’t respond by affirming her hopelessness. If you’re like most, you wouldn’t respond by enthusiastically affirming her “right to die” or by encouraging her to pursue a means of suicide. Instead, you would recognize her vulnerability. Instead, you would strive to stand alongside her Read More ›

‘Rights Talk’

How often we hear of human rights and how little we hear of human responsibilities. How can we have one without the other? Every right suggests a claim and every claim suggests a responsibility. What makes human rights “work” is our ability to discern when particular human rights claims ought to be responsibly fulfilled and when particular claims are, in fact, a threat to either the good of the individual or the good of society. This is what Ryan Anderson was getting at recently when he pointed out that rights are “grounded in and thus limited by the demands of justice and common good“. An appeal to human rights that places an inordinate emphasis on, for instance, autonomy and individualism, Read More ›

Human Rights Require Knowledge of the Human Heart

I’m excited to join the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Let me share my approach to the issues of human dignity, liberty, and equality and the moral duties that the Center exists to consider and advance. I believe that when it comes to issues of human life we’re generally engaging conflicts that are neither unresolvable nor destined for stalemate. We’re debating issues that matter. We can lose sight of this due to the tendency to throw our hands into the air over the seemingly complex nature of many human life issues, content to “agree to disagree” because “it’s complicated.” For those determined to advance human dignity, liberty, and equality, settling for this false peace is, in fact, a surrender Read More ›