A discussion on what is replaceable.
- When the human race encounters its first honest-to-goodness “alien” lifeform, do you think it will be of an “artificial” or “organic”/”natural” composition?
- If a prosthetic is harmed, is it a form of property damage or a personal injury? For example, imagine an individual with a prosthetic limb is in a car accident in which the prosthetic is damaged, should compensation for this “loss of limb” be for property restitution or injury coverage?
- There will always be medical device malfunctions, defects, imperfections, scenarios unplanned for. What is an appropriate rate of harm for medical devices in general? What about those replacing a limb or a function? What about implanted devices?
- In The Tin Man of Oz, we are told that the Wicked Witch of the East enchants Nick Chopper’s axe so that it lops of parts of his body to prevent him from marrying Nimmie. A tinsmith replaces each lost part with tin until he is all tin – a Tin Man! Not content with just this wickedness, The Wicked Witch assembled each of Nick’s severed parts into a whole man, named Chopfyt, who Nimmie has wed. Did Nick marry Nimmie?
- Imagine a neural prosthetic has been implanted into your brain that helps to transcode your short-term memories into your long-term memories. This implant that you neither see nor feel sends a pattern of electrical shocks to your hippocampus without you knowing when or how. After a while you notice your memory has improved, recalling more information with greater ease. Has this implant changed “you”? Is this implant now part of “you”? If it were removed…?
- An internal alarm for an implanted medical device with an individual manufacturer starts to go off. It is not loud but can be heard within a few feet. It makes a short chirp every 33 minutes. It continues to sound for two years.
- It requires an invasive procedure which your insurance does not cover and which you cannot afford.
- The company who manufactured it went out of business a couple years back.
- As it is not a “life-threatening” malfunction, the company that acquired the company that developed the original device claims no liability and will not cover repair or replacement.
What is to be done?
- Some forms of deafness – a lack of hearing – can be augmented/treated/aided by cochlear implants. Critics of childhood implantation say members of the deaf community have their own language and culture and that to implant devices in children would diminish an already minority culture. Who should make the decisions involved in these implants and how should they make them?
- Would humans who come “to term” within artificial womb-like environments without being birthed through typical – “natural” – means be any “different” from “normal” humans? What would it mean to be “born” from such an environment?
- To make the preceding question a little more difficult, when would a human’s life begin within such an “artificial” environment? Would/Should restrictions/regulations of abortion procedures be any different in “natural” and “artificial” cases?
- Would you willingly get a prosthetic? What would you make of those who would?
Readings to consider
- Implant ethics (Hansson)
- Neuro-Prosthetics, the Extended Mind, and Respect for Persons with Disability (Anderson)
- Why Not Artificial Wombs? (Rosen)
- Going Out on a Limb: Prosthetics, Normalcy and Disputing the Therapy:Enhancement Distinction (Karpin & Mykitiuk)