david m. adams


Recent Publications

“Clinical Ethics Consultation and Physician Assisted Suicide,” forthcoming in Jukka Varelius and Michael Cholbi (eds.)  New Directions in the Ethics of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia (Dordrecht: Springer; 2015).

“Belief and Death: Capital Punishment and the Competence-For-Execution Requirement,” Criminal Law and Philosophy 2014  DOI 10.1007/s11572-014-9293-6.           

“Ethics Expertise and Moral Authority: Is There A Difference?,” American Journal of Bioethics 13 (2) 2013: 27-28.

“Investigational Drugs and the Desperately Ill,” APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Medicine  20 (1) 2012: 6-11.

Philosophical Problems in the Law, Fifth Edition (Boston: Wadsworth/Cengage.; 2012), forthcoming.

“Consensus, Clinical Decision Making, and Unsettled Cases,” (with William J. Winslade) (target article) forthcoming, Journal of Clinical Ethics 22 (4) 2011: 310-327.

“The Role of the Clinical Ethics Consultant in Unsettled Cases,” forthcoming, Journal of Clinical Ethics 22 (4) 2011: 328-334.

“Final Comments,” (with William J. Winslade) forthcoming, Journal of Clinical Ethics 22 (4) 2011: 358-362.

Work in Progress
My most recent research projects have been centered in clinical medical ethics and have focused on the historical background and theoretical justification for healthcare ethics consultation. In “Clinical Ethics Consultation and Physician Assisted Suicide” (forthcoming) I attempt to address what appears to be a novel theoretical and practical problem concerning physician-assisted suicide (PAS). That problem arises out of a newly created set of circumstances in which persons are hospitalized in jurisdictions where PAS, though now legally available to patients, remains morally contentious. When moral disagreements over PAS come to divide physicians, patients, and family members, it is quite likely they will today find their way to the hospital’s consulting ethicist, a member of an emerging group of professionals charged with the responsibility (so we are told) of resolving moral conflict in the clinic. What can or should an ethics consultant do to fulfill this mandate in such circumstances? I argue that the now predominant conception of the ethicist’s role is incapable satisfactorily of answering this question and that therefore a fresh understanding of the ethicist’s competence and commission needs to be developed.

I am currently at work on an article challenging the implications of a widespread conception of the aims and purposes of clinical ethics consultation. That view calls for ethicists to resolve moral uncertainty or by facilitating dialogue and consensus within “a range of morally acceptable options), as measured by conformity with established norms—norms  discerned by examining law, widespread standards of practice, and relevant literature. This received view, focused as it is upon eliminating conflict consistent with established norms, is open to challenge when genuine moral disagreements arise.  I argue that that the received view makes the ethicist responsible to established norms in a way that may undermine her integrity, leave her unable fully and honestly to meet the requesting parties’ need to resolve moral uncertainty, and (thereby) compromise her status as an “ethics expert.” Using a case involving a challenge to prevailing standards for neurological determination of death, I argue that the received view requires the ethicist to disguise growing controversy over the conceptual and practical problems with “brain death” criteria, leading her to violate responsibilities to act to strive to be worthy of trust and to act in a way consistent with one’s core beliefs. The ethicist’s obligation to safeguard the process of moral deliberation underscores that ethics is not reducible to what is currently generally accepted, but concerns what can be supported by the strongest arguments.

I am currently working on the draft of a text, tentatively entitled Philosopher in the ICU: Problems in Clinical Medical Ethics, which examines and illustrates familiar dilemmas in clinical medicine through the use of various case studies.



Valid HTML 5

Valid CSS