Research

My current research program focuses on the institution of post-mortem organ transplantation. Since its inception, policymakers have concentrated on ways of improving the rate of organ donation in order to save more lives. Thus, the most important ethical and policy question that has emerged from the organ transplantation literature is: How should we procure organs from dead people?

     A necessary step in answering this question, however, requires giving an account of what obligations we have towards organ donors. In my dissertation, I clarify what we owe to organ donors by answering central questions regarding how we ought to respect people’s autonomy when removing their organs. Specifically, I argue (i) that the main argument in favor of a policy of presumed consent is unsound, (ii) that when families veto their family member’s decision to donate, they do not violate their loved one’s autonomy, (iii) that obtaining a patient’s consent before removing her organs is not morally required in order to respect her autonomy, and (iv) that under certain circumstances, people have posthumous rights over what happens to their organs after their deaths.

     I also worry about the allocation of scarce medical resources. In particular, what role does a patient’s responsibility for their diseases and illnesses play in their priority for scarce medial resources? Is there a coherent and just way to assign responsibility to patients for their healthcare outcomes? And, what role, if any, should a person’s uncontrollable features, such as age, play in their priority for scarce resources?

     In addition to topics in bioethics, I have burgeoning interests in the fields of neuroethics and the ethics of technology. With respect to the former, I have published a short commentary piece on the ethical issues involved in using Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) therapy to treat incarcerated psychopaths, and I continue to be intrigued by the ethical and philosophical issues posed by the clinical and experimental use of DBS therapy. Related to the ethics of technology, I am interested in the ethical use of digital technology and its overall effect on contemporary society. I currently have a co-authored paper under review on the ethics of using ad blocking software.