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The Hastings Center


The psychology of autonomy VOLUME 46, NO. 3 • may-june 2016

n May 2016, right around the time that this issue of the Hastings Center Re- Gregory E. Kaebnick
port should be published, The Hastings Center is holding a conference in Editor
New York City titled “Bioethics Meets Moral Psychology.” The goal of the Laura Haupt
conference is to consider the lessons that bioethicists should learn from the raft Managing Editor
of literature now accumulating on how the mental processes of perception, emo- Susan Gilbert
tion, and thinking affect things that bioethicists care about, from the education Stephen R. Latham
of health care professionals to the conflicts that arise in clinical care, the “culture Contributing Editors
wars” over bioethical policy issues, the status of different cultures’ value systems, Nora Porter
and the very understanding of the values that are foundational in moral thinking. Art Director
The articles in this issue had nothing to do with that conference. That we Nancy Berlinger
received them, reviewed them, and are publishing them is simply more evi- Michael K. Gusmano
dence that bioethics is meeting moral psychology. We did, however, decide to Erik Parens
bring them out in this issue so that they would accompany the conference. Editorial Committee
In the lead article, Joseph Stramondo uses insights from moral psychologists
to explore the divide between “mainstream bioethics” and scholars in the “dis- The Hastings Center Report (ISSN
ability movement” (terms he uses as shorthand while noting that there is diversity 0093-0334 print; ISSN 1552-146X
online) is published bimonthly on
within both groups). The divide is often taken to be a disagreement over values:
behalf of The Hastings Center by Wiley
bioethicists prize autonomy, which they understand as generating a right for pa- Subscription Services, Inc., a Wiley
tients to make their own medical decisions and sometimes to opt for physician- Company, 111 River St., Hoboken, NJ
assisted death, while disability scholars critique that understanding of autonomy 07030-5774. The Hastings Center, an
and call for more stringent constraints on, or perhaps prohibitions of, physician- independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit
assisted death. Stramondo argues that the divide is really more a difference of organization, addresses fundamental
moral psychology, rooted in a difference of experience. Autonomy is fine, but ethical issues in the areas of health,
disability scholars recognize that bioethicists are wielding it in a way that “neglects medicine, and the environment as they
and obscures” some of the salient facts of the lives of people with disability. affect individuals, communities, and
societies. For more information on the
The second article, by Nicolae Morar and Natalia Washington, is about
Center’s interdisciplinary research and
the gifts physicians receive from pharmaceutical companies. Morar and Wash- education programs, visit its website at
ington argue that these gifts are more influential than physicians realize.
Physicians imagine that their decision-making is free, rational, and uncon- The Hastings Center Report is sent to
ditioned (hold Morar and Washington), but as a number of moral psycholo- individual and institutional subscribers.
gists have shown, and as pharmaceutical companies realize, gifts can bias a For ordering information, claims, and
person’s thinking in subtle but meaningful ways. Here, the usual understand- any inquiry concerning your jour-
ing of autonomy neglects and obscures what’s going on in people’s heads. nal subscription, please go to http://
As I look over the issue, it strikes me that, in some ways, the lead essay, by or
Bruce Jennings, nicely introduces one of the issue’s overarching themes (and the contact your nearest office. Americas:
book review by Grant Gillett is an interesting coda). Jennings writes about “the or 1-800-835-
6770. Europe, Middle East, and Africa:
relational turn” among theorists of autonomy: autonomy is seen not as a capac-; +44 (0)-1865-
ity possessed by isolated minds, Jennings writes, but as a goal that human beings 778315. Asia Pacific: cs-journals@wiley.
strive to achieve in and by means of relationships and social arrangements. The com or +65-6511-8000. Periodicals
relational turn is a conceptual trend among philosophers rather than a meeting postage paid at Hoboken, NJ, and ad-
of the minds for philosophers and psychologists, but it reflects a similar con- ditional mailing offices.
cern about the social conditions and processes of agency. It suggests, at least, that postmaster: Send all address
philosophers are psychologically ready to meet the psychologists. —GEKn changes to the Hastings Center Report,
Journal Customer Services, John Wiley
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Contents copyright © 2016 by The
Hastings Center. All rights reserved.

2 HASTIN G S C E N T E R R E P ORT May-June 2016