The Iona Blog

Utilitarianism is no basis for allocating scarce medical resources

By Dr Tom Finegan   Decision-making in the context of scarce resources will tend to appeal to what sounds like utilitarianism, i.e., to the weighing of the “good” and “bad” involved in possible choices to see which choice will produce the highest amount of overall net good. For example, in the context of limited access...

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Who is giving ethical advice to NPHET?

By David Mullins There has been much talk recently of the need for both government and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to display greater levels of accountability and transparency. This is particularly true with respect to the deliberative processes that are being engaged in prior to conclusions and recommendations being made. Are the...

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Who should get priority treatment in a pandemic?

By Dr Angelo Bottone

Philosopher Catherine Kavanagh has argued that the ambiguous expression “quality of life” can potentially be used to exclude those who are old or disabled from necessary treatments, especially at a time like this. In Ireland, it is notable that fewer than 10pc of nursing home patients with Covid-19 have been moved to hospitals for treatment...

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A new poll shows how Irish religious practice is adapting to the lockdown

By Dr Angelo Bottone

A new poll commissioned by the Iona Institute looks at what happens to religious practice in a lockdown situation. In spite of the fact that public worship suspended, many people are tuning into religious ceremonies in various ways and almost a fifth of people (18pc)  say they are praying more than usual. Weekly Mass attendance...

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How Should We Approach Triage in the Crisis?

By Dr Catherine Kavanagh The current crisis of care in nursing homes is explained by some as simply an exercise in triage, necessary because there are not enough resources to go around, and it is alarming how many people simply shrug it off as inevitable. However, before capitulating completely to the law of the jungle,...

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The ethics of a lockdown (III)

Proportionality and Pandemics-A Difficult Assessment By David Mullins In the current health crisis, many goods have to be balanced. The big question is whether the good done by the lockdown is proportionate to the harm caused by it. So far, a big majority of people think that it is. The principle of proportionality is used...

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Rationing healthcare mainly by age is unacceptable

By Dr Angelo Bottone

It has been reported that some hospitals in the west of Ireland have been told to employ a point system to determine who should be sent to ICU during the Covid-19 crisis, and one of the criteria is age. If you reach exceed eight on this scale, you are not being admitted to ICU. According...

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The ethics of a lockdown (II)

Weighing goods and bads? By Dr John Murray It seems obvious that in this current crisis, and indeed more generally in political, professional, and personal life, we need to weigh up the goods and bads involved in the options we face for choice. Isn’t such weighing up required if we are to be rational and...

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The ethics of a lockdown (I)

Ireland has gone into lockdown to try and minimise the number of deaths caused by Covid-19. In coming to this decision, the Government has decided that, for now anyway, the good of the lockdown outweighs any possible harms that might result. Obviously, we do not shut down society each year to try and minimise the...

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Ethical questions in a pandemic

By Dr Angelo Bottone

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...

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