AngeloBottone profile
AngeloBottone
AngeloBottone
I am a college lecturer, I teach philosophy. I am also research officer at the Iona Institute in Dublin, Ireland. I write mostly about bioethics, particularly abortion, marriage and religion. I am planning to post an article per week. Here below you can find some examples.
Subscribe
Send Message

Share

Tell people about this page...

Subscription Tiers

$1
per month
Ss logo sign mono back
Basic

If I produce any content you will be the first to receive it.

0 subscribers
Unlock
$5
per month
Ss logo sign mono back
Friend

You will have access to Subscribestar only content, plus a 20 minute Skype session with me every month.

0 subscribers
Unlock
$10
per month
Ss logo sign mono back
Patron

For 10 $ per month I will send you a signed copy of my book "The philosophical habit of mind: Person and Rhetoric in John Henry Newman", plus all of the above.

0 subscribers
Unlock

Features

  • Philosophy, politics, bioethics, pro-life, marriage, religion.

Recent posts

B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

Countries with liberal legislation have higher rate of abortion for unexpected pregnancies

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

The vast majority of pro-abortion doctors working in neo-natal units in Flanders, Belgium, suppor...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

from 13 Aug, 2020

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

A debate on how to tackle a shrinking population is long overdue The world population will peak a...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone
Public post
The purposes of medicine

Medicine has three main purposes: to prevent and cure diseases, and to take care of patients. It is not simply a science but also a practice inspired by ethical values. So, what is the difference with the other sciences? Take for instance mineralogy. It is the description of the chemical and physical properties of minerals. Medicine, instead, aims not simply at describing what a human body is but it is also based on the assumption that there is a natural order, which we call health, and the purpose of the medical practice is to keep or to restore this order. There is an intrinsic good (health) that we discover through science and we preserve and reestablish through practice.
For instance, anatomy and physiology tell us what is the proper function of the eyes, i.e. to see. This is not simply a description but it also contains a prescriptive element because the ideal eye is also the normative model that the doctor uses when she acts to keep the patient’s eyes healthy or to prevent their diseases.
This understanding of medicine doesn’t require a particular religious faith but it is nonetheless intrinsically ethical. It is inspired by a certain conception of the good (health) that we find in human nature through the correct use of reason. The principle of “do not harm”, which has guided health care since ancient times, has the form of an ethical imperative.
Not everything that happens (or might happen) in a hospital or a clinic is medicine, unless it aims at preventing and curing diseases, and also at the same time at taking care of patients. Not all interventions that alter our bodies surgically or chemically are medicine, even if a scientist (medical expert) might be involved. Getting your facial features surgically changed to look more like your music idol is not medicine. Killing the unborn because she was unplanned or is disabled is not medicine. Augmenting your muscles through drugs to win a weightlifting contest is not medicine. Removing a perfectly healthy organ to adjust your body to your perceived gender is not medicine. Facilitating suicide is not medicine.
In all these examples a certain level of scientific knowledge is necessary but they lack what makes medicine more than a science: the ethical value of health. They might involve someone who has a proper knowledge of the human body but his purpose, in these examples, is not to restore or preserve the good of the functioning body. They are instances of scientific techniques without good and true medical ethics.
There is a growing pressure by certain ideologies to transform medicine, which is necessarily led by an objective good that we call health, into the satisfying of the subjective requests and choices of the patient.  If bodily autonomy (my body, my choice), rather than health, is the ultimate value then there is no reason why doctor should not amputate a healthy arm or leg, when requested, or administer a dangerous substance, for recreation or self-harm or death. Without the guiding principle of health, practitioners become simply the executors of someone else’s desires. Obviously, people can do what they want with their bodies but this is not medicine.
There is no good medicine without ethics. Hospitals don’t need to be under church or religious influence but they cannot exist without an ethos, without values. When their core value is not health – an intrinsic good indicated by human nature- they don’t serve medicine anymore but trends, ideologies, business.



B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

For pro-choice campaigners, ignorance about abortion is blissThe

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

Marriage in Ireland continues its declineMarriage continues to change and decline in Ireland as t...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

Safety above all things is not a Christian virtue

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

Getting the facts right about reversing effects of abortion pills

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

New video: French and German judges rule against Covid-bans on public worship

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

Should those in charge get priority treatment in a pandemic?In a previous blog I discussed an arti

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

Ireland will be one of the last countries in Europe to restore public worshipWhile Ireland plans ...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

How religious sisters are the real founders of modern nursingOn Tuesday, we celebrated Internatio...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone
Public post
On the balance of goods
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

(ORIGINAL CONTENT)On the balance of goods Risk is the probability that damage happens. In these ...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone
Public post
Ethical questions in a pandemic

The current epidemic raises a number of profound ethical questions.   We are facing unprecedented events under the pressure of time and of limited resources. In the name of urgency and necessity we are experiencing exceptional restrictions of fundamental liberties, and a significant alteration of our familiar ways of living.



After the initial shock, when energies are inevitably focused on emergency measures, it is now time to address more fundamental issues that this epidemic has highlighted.



Why do we need a debate about ethics now? In the current exceptional circumstances, it seems that many decisions are not free choices, but they are rather dictated by necessity. Nonetheless, practical deliberations are always inspired by values. Either consciously or unconsciously, we all operate within a moral framework. We decide to pursue a certain course of action, rather than another, because we deem certain principles more important than others. This is obvious when we face conflictual duties – for instance, saving lives and preserving freedom – and we ultimately follow a certain road because of our deep philosophical commitments.



Strategic decisions are now led more by the assessments of the experts than the democratic mandate which legitimizes our political representatives. National and international bureaucratic structures define our common tasks in terms of measurable effectiveness to the point that we feel we are living in a tyranny of the specialists, legitimated by their scientific expertise.



Nothing should be done against science, but the problem is that science is not about ends, it is about means. Medicine tell us how to save lives but doesn’t tell us which lives should or shouldn’t be saved, and why they should be saved at all. Experts disagree, not only on purely scientific grounds – for instance, which treatment works better – but also on what we ultimately want to achieve. Different policies are expression of different values and it would be foolish to move through an epoch-defining outbreak without having a debate about what we ultimately want and why.



We need a debate about ends. What are we here for? The good life in a community, says an old tradition that goes back to our Greek philosophical roots.



What clearly emerges in front of our eyes these days is that we can’t understand ourselves as individuals. We are members of a community. My life depends on what other people around me do. My best efforts will count nothing without everybody else’s best efforts. More than ever, this epidemic requires us to think and act in solidarity, which literally means being strong together. This solidarity is necessary not only in action but firstly in the way we frame and approach our problems.



We are operating in fear and isolation, under the pressure of unprecedented events. We hear that we are forced to trade different values against each other.   But to think according to an ethics of solidarity means that conflicts and tensions should be framed not in terms of opposition but as if they all together threaten to the same end, which is the common good.



It would be wrong to present our dilemmas in terms of exclusive interests: for instance, should we care for the sick or for the one who might lose his job? If we address this problem through the prism of solidarity, we will realise that it is the same person who is at risk of getting sick and losing their job, it is the same family, it is the same community.



Roles are now swiftly exchangeable – a health carer becomes a patient – and the same person often embodies many roles – someone who works from home may also be a carer or a patient. There is no family or group that is not potentially impacted. Traditional categories such as social class, gender, ethnicity, are now insignificant. We are all one and should think in solidarity.



In a competitive struggle for scarce resources, we give priority to those we consider more valuable, overlooking the rest. In a solidaristic approach, we give precedence to those who are most in need.



As every epidemic, this one is significantly impairing what constitutes a community, such as the acting physically together. Everything that is communal is currently affected, from mourning our deaths to celebrating sports, from worshipping to travelling. However, the present epidemic is different when compared with the big ones of the past, think of the Black Death, because contemporary means of communication allows us to be united in spirit with those who are distant. Even if only virtually, certain expressions of solidarity are easier to perform.



As part of a community, we have a duty to limit some of our legitimate desires and demands if they put others at risk. And risk should be understood not simply in the sense of physical health. There is a risk of cutting meaningful relationships, of compromising the education of the younger generations, of impairing mental wellbeing, of destroying business and charitable work, of neglecting those who suffer for other reasons, etc.



The wide scope of risk is what makes this epidemic difficult to manage and it is not the role of ethics to identify what is practically appropriate in each circumstance. Our task, instead, is to inquire what goods we want to achieve and what moral principles should guide us.



I will address in a separate article the moral dilemma of prioritizing access to scarce medical resources but the general principle I am proposing, inspired by an ethics of solidarity, is that everyone should be cared according to their needs, rather than ability or, more often, inability to contribute to society.



An ethics of solidarity involves sacrifice. However, the question should not be formulated in terms of who we are willing to sacrifice for the common good. It is rather, what should be sacrificed? No one should be discriminated because is less abled, has less prospect of life, or can’t pay.



Different approaches and strategies employed to tackle this pandemic reflect who we care most. In any assessment of a balance of goods we should remember the dignity of the most vulnerable. Solidarity means that it is precisely those who are weaker that we hold stronger.



Measures have to be proportionate but what is a fair proportion cannot be determined in advance. By definition, this depends on the circumstances. What, instead, can and should be discussed is what society we wish for when promoting public health.



We won’t be able to do all the good we would like to accomplish but have we established what this good is? Let’s have this conversation.
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

Remembering the heroic priests and nuns who have died in this crisisAlmost one hundred priests in...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

Quantifying the enormous good the Church does worldwideNo voluntary organisation in the world doe...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

Time for Irish pharmacists to be given proper conscience rightsA landmark rule has recognised the...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

The Catholic Church is rightly excoriated for its past failure to properly protect children from ...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

UN report warns against all forms of surrogacyBoth commercial and so-called ‘altruistic’ surrogac...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone
Public post
(original content)

Euthanasia is promoted under the disguise of neutrality




Last week, a spokeperson for Fianna Fáil told the Medical Independent that they would not oppose the referral of assisted suicide to a Citizens’ Assembly for further discussion. Delegating the debate to an unelected body means that neither Fianna Fáil, nor any other major party, is not actively opposing the introduction of legislation that could legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide. (1)

In 2017 the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality considered possible recommendations on legislating in favour of euthanasia andassisted suicide. They heard from a number of experts, and the strongest opposition to the introduction of new liberalising laws came from the representatives of the medical profession and of disability advocacy groups. (2)

Des O’Neill, professor of medical gerontology at Trinity College Dublin, said “We have to send out a message to people of disability of whatever age that our impulse is to care, to cure sometimes, to relieve often and comfort always.” (3)

Dr Regina McQuillan of the Irish Association of Palliative Care said: “Suicide is rightly considered a blight on society and there are many efforts made to reduce it. That there are some people for whom suicide is considered appropriate may suggest that there are people whose lives are not deserving of the same level of protection.” (4)

At the end of the hearings, the Committee did not achieve a clear consensus. Accordingly, they did not recommend legislative change.  Instead, they urged the Houses of the Oireachtas “to consider referring the issue to the Citizens’ Assembly for deliberation”. (5) 

But why should a non-representative body, with no specific expertise, discuss and recommend vicariously, when there was no majority in the Oireachtas Committee in support of the change?

Political parties cannot stay neutral and delegate to others such a critical debate. Even small changes must be opposed or they will have catastrophic effects.

We can learn from the experience of other countries that the legislation on these issues is usually introduced on some limited ground (for terminally ill patients, for instance) but, with time, it becomes more and more liberal. Once the general principle that doctors should not participate in procuring death is eroded, it is difficult to change the trend and go back.

Psychiatrist Mark Komrad has said, “Several governments, in the last two decades, have invited and permitted physicians to transgress the prohibition against killing their patients.  … Originally, the class who can be voluntarily killed or helped to suicide was limited to those at the very end of life. However, principles of justice have made it very difficult to limit such procedures to that category of people. The more experience a country has with such practices, the more the horizon of eligibility has expanded far beyond extreme end-stage cases. … The so-called “choice“ that is offered to the suffering to end their lives is a pseudo-choice, filtered through a physician’s own values, and commonly forced, by having very limited choices in other domains — economics, social support, healthcare, etc. It is unjust, and therefore impossible, in a democratic society, to limit these procedures to some — like the terminally ill — but refuse it to others — like those with chronic physical and psychiatric disabilities. Yet, it signals that chronic disability and its sufferings might constitute a “life not worth living.” (6)

The pressure on doctors to support and participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide is growing everywhere.

In October 2018, at the General Assembly of the World Medical Association (WMA), representatives from Canada and the Netherlands attempted to change the WMA code of ethics, which has always condemned the participation of physicians in procuring death through direct euthanasia or providing drugs for suicide. (7)

During the debate, all sort of euthanasic practices were rejected and eventually the proposal has been withdrawn, reiterating the WMA’s long-standing opposition to procuring death.

This debate, though, continues on national level.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), in the UK, has recently dropped its opposition to assisted dying in a surreptitious manner that has attracted strong criticism. They are now neutral on the issue and will not officially engage in public discussions but how they have arrived at this position appears to be despicable. (8)

In 2014, 57.6% of the RCP membership opposed a change in the law that would legalise assisted suicide. In January this year, after announcing the third poll on this topic among its members since 2006, it was decreed that a 60% majority was needed to stop changing the RCP position to non-opposition. This means that even if 59,9% were against the change, it would have occurred nonetheless. Such a majority was even more difficult to achieve as three options were given (yes, no or neutral), while the previous vote was binary (yes or no).

A group of members of the RCP have challenged them in court, arguing that “the use of a ‘super-majority’ vote on such issues is without precedent in professional organisations in the UK. They have said that it appears to be a tactical move to give a strong boost to the campaign to change the law on assisted suicide. The largest euthanasia lobby group in the UK has previously identified the opposition of medical bodies as a key obstacle to changing to law. Two well-known patrons of this organisation, and active campaigners for legalising euthanasia, are on the RCP Council – the internal body driving the RCP poll.” (9)

In spite of the robust protestation, the poll was carried out in February and found that 43.4 pc were opposed adopting a pro-assisted suicide policy, 31.6 pc were in favour and 25 pc were neutral. This means that even though the majority of the voters were against, the Royal College of Physicians will now be neutral on the matter.

In this case, as with the Joint Committee referral to the Citizens’ Assembly, we see that even when there is no clear majority in support for a significant change, certain issues are considered so important by a minority that they have to be promoted, under the disguise of neutrality, until they are accepted.



B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone
Public post


What are the beliefs of those who do not believe in God? A new survey presents some counterintuitive and contradictory findings, such as the belief in supernatural phenomena.

An ongoing research project called “Understanding Unbelief” aims at mapping the nature and diversity of non-believers (both atheists and agnostics) across different national settings. It involves participants from six countries and three continents (Brazil, United States, Denmark, United Kingdom, China and Japan). 

The survey comprises about 1,100 representatives per country and its interim findings were presented in Rome recently.
Those who do not believe in God, both because they think he does not exist or because it is not possible to know anything about it, were asked if they considered themselves to belong to a particular religion. Many of them answered positively. For instance, 28% of unbelievers from Denmark labelled themselves as Christians. What they probably mean here is that they come from a Christian background and this heritage is still somehow significant for them. 


A majority of atheists and agnostics from Western countries were brought up in a Christian tradition while nonreligious upbringing prevails among Chinese (82%) and Japanese (70%) unbelievers, according to the study.
Belonging without believing may appear a contradiction if we consider religion only in terms of convictions but being part of a tradition persists even when those convictions are lost.


Participants were asked then how they would identify themselves. ‘Non-religious’ was the most popular designation in every country except China, where instead ‘atheist’ is preferred.
With regard to supernatural phenomena such as reincarnation, astrology, karma, it would be expected that atheists and agnostics do not agree with their existence. Instead, the opposite is the case. Even if to a lower degree, when compared with the rest of the population, a substantial percentage of unbelievers accept supernatural phenomena. More than half of Chinese agnostics believe in astrology, for instance. They are strikingly more like to accept supernatural phenomena than those from other countries and this is a peculiarity shared with the rest of the population.
Moreover, “the belief that there are ‘underlying forces’ of good and evil, that ‘there exist a universal spirit or life force,’ and that ‘most significant life events are meant to be and happen for a reason’ are the most endorsed among unbelievers globally”. (p. 14)


Among atheists, Brazilian and Chinese are the most ‘supernaturally inclined’ while the Japanese are the least. Absolute naturalists, who would deny any existence of supernatural beings or phenomena, are a minority among non-believers in every country surveyed.
These findings prove that a sense for the supernatural, which is part of being human, remains in non-believers and it is channeled into different directions, according to their background culture. For instance, where a certain credence is accepted by the general population, such as the existence of forces of good and evil which prevails among Brazilians, it appears to be similarly prevalent among the atheists or the agnostics of that country.


Does the universe possess any meaning or purpose for those who do not believe in God? Yes, according to the study. “With the exception of Brazil, where 47% endorse such a view, only around a third of unbelievers in each country regard the universe to be ultimately meaningless. While unbelievers are admittedly more likely to take this view than the population at large, curiously this is not so in Japan.” (p. 16)

This Japanese exception is something worth exploring. The interim results offer no explanation yet as they are based simply on statistical surveys while the second part of the research will focus on in-depth, face-to face interviews and might help with the interpretation of data.

Participants were asked to find the most important items, from a list of 43 words, to them for finding meaning in the world and in their own life. There was no substantial difference between unbelievers and general populations concerning the answer, ‘family’ and then ‘freedom’ ranking highly for all, according to the study.

The research also found no consistent difference between unbelievers and the general population with regard to the objectivity of moral norms or of human rights.  While unbelievers are more likely to endorse the claim that ‘what is right and wrong is up to each person to decide’ in China and the United States, members of the general population are more likely to endorse it in Brazil, Denmark, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

It appears that cultural differences rather than religious faith, or lack of it, explain cross-national variations better. The study shows that being an unbeliever is complex and does not exclude many counterintuitive and often contradictory beliefs.
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

The risk factors leading to marital breakdownDo marriages that end in separation or divorce share...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier
B4b28942 f387 4374 aeee 23d521f5f3bd 120x120 63x0 374x374
AngeloBottone

Children suffer when parents in low-conflict marriages divorceWe are in the middle of a referendu...

Comments
Like(0)
Dislike(0)
This post belongs to a locked $1 tier.
Unlock Tier

The subscription gives you:
  • Full, unlimited access to Star's profile content - to view it online or to download it to future use.
  • Support your Star by contributing – one-time or recurring.
  • You can cancel this subscription at any time.
This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through this website. Continue to use this website as normal if you agree to the use of cookies. View our Privacy Policy for the details. By choosing "I Accept", you consent to our use of cookies.