March 2016 – Ethical issues at the beginning of life

Weds 9 March 2016 – Ethical issues at the beginning of life – introduced by Robert

A range of ethical issues arise especially at the beginning of life. Some are of long standing.  Others have arisen more recently as a result of scientific advances.  We might think of the issues under three headings, relating to conception, to genetics and to personal development.

For an example related to conception – if we are in a position to choose, how many children should we have? Is it wrong to restrict the number? Is it wrong not to restrict the number?

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What’s been going on recently at THINK?

So we are over three months in and word is getting out, we have had a few new faces each week.

I’ll start with our second meeting, for which we changed the topic at somewhat the last minute. We started off with a discussion of what the rules should be for our little group, I proposed a few which weren’t particularly contentious. The three rules I proposed were:

  1. Everyone has the right to express a view with the expectation of being treated with respect
  2. Everyone has the right to speak – so the mediation method must be followed by everyone and must be fair
  3. The aim is not to “win” an argument.

These seemed to be sensible, so thanks to an interesting point about traffic lights made by one of our new group members, we moved on to the kind of rules we perhaps ought not to follow. We discussed education and the pressure to conform to social expectations, as well as the need to consider group safety and responsibility.

So thanks to all that turned up to the second meeting of THINK and help us establish our rules.

And now onto the third meeting, the first presented by my co-founder, Noush. She had read an interesting article from the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/02/middle-aged-people-least-happy-most-anxious-ons-wellbeing-report) about some analysis from the ONS on statistics they gather periodically. This suggests people around middle age are the least happy. The question Noush posed was whether we could measure happiness.

This was an interesting discussion and one that distracted me from facilitating the discussion. We spoke about how the expectations for the future might impact your perception of your current happiness, ie. being less happy in the short term in the expectation of happiness in the future. We spoke about some individuals perhaps being “naturally” happier and whether there could exist a standard scale. A few times the question was raised of whether hindsight can change how you remember a previously happy event and what that means, as well as the importance of social expectations to an individual’s happiness. The initial question, of whether happiness can (or should) be measured, was something there were an array of views on. It is not a question easily answered, though many of us saw the validity, as in these studies, of comparing answers within a group (the importance of linguistics was also flagged up).

The discussion in March will be presented by Robert and Noush will email about that soon. Thanks to all of our participants for your support so far and I hope you will join us for our next meeting, on the 9th March.

Niamh