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Article

Frej Klem Thomsen

The conceptualization and moral analysis of discrimination constitutes a burgeoning theoretical field, with a number of open problems and a rapidly developing literature. A central problem is how to define discrimination, both in its most basic direct sense and in the most prominent variations. A plausible definition of the basic sense of the word understands discrimination as disadvantageous differential treatment of two groups that is in some respect caused by the properties that distinguish the groups, but open questions remain on whether discrimination should be restricted to concern only particular groups, as well as on whether it is best conceived as a descriptive or a moralized concept. Furthermore, since this understanding limits direct discrimination to cases of differential treatment, it requires that we be able to draw a clear distinction between equal and differential treatment, a task that is less simple than it may appear, but that is helpful in clarifying indirect discrimination and statistical discrimination. The second major problem in theorizing discrimination is explaining what makes discrimination morally wrong. On this issue, there are four dominant contemporary answers: the valuational and expressive disrespect accounts, which hold that discrimination is wrong when and if the discriminator misestimates or expresses a misestimate of the moral status of the discriminatee; the unfairness account, which holds that discrimination is wrong when and if the discriminator unfairly increases inequality of opportunity; and the harm account, which holds that discrimination is wrong when and if the discriminator harms the discriminatee. Each of these accounts, however, faces important challenges in simultaneously providing a persuasive theoretical account and matching our intuitions about cases of impermissible discrimination.

Article

From the earliest days of its recognition in the United States, the condition that came to be known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has been associated with the gay community. In fact, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first made written notice of the syndrome in 1981, the acronym GRID (gay-related immune disease) was commonly, although not officially, used to describe it. In the five years that followed, the causal agent, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), was discovered, specific demographic groups were identified as at heightened risk of infection, and transmission routes—including sexual activity, intravenous drug use, and transfusion of blood and blood products—were determined. Identification of HIV with the gay community as a major risk group had important ramifications for prevention and treatment policy, as the community mobilized a rights-based approach that advocated harm reduction over abstinence and access and affordability of treatment over the interests of the private market. These concepts carried into later debates as the world recognized the global severity of HIV and grappled for the first time ever with a goal of universal treatment access in the world’s poorest countries where the pandemic is most severe. Identification of HIV with values, conceptual structures, leadership, and mobilization drawn from the gay community also had ramifications on the social and political contexts of AIDS treatment and prevention globally, as governments and cultures that had ignored or demonized their gay populations have increased their interactions with them as “risk groups” and as political actors. Despite the remarkable inroads made into accessibility of treatment, the world remains without a vaccine, a cure, or the political will to fully implement universal treatment access, which means that eradication of the global pandemic remains elusive.

Article

Camille Vallier and Djemila Carron

Transidentity raises numerous legal questions as it challenges the way the law fundamentally categorizes society in two different groups. The European legal landscape has evolved towards greater recognition of transgender people’s rights, notably in terms of legal gender recognition and non-discrimination, but many inequalities remain deeply rooted in the law. Gender identity has increasingly been recognized as a ground of discrimination by national and regional instances in Europe, and in 2002 the European Court of Human Rights acknowledged the existence of a right to legal gender recognition under Article 8 of the Convention, in the famous Goodwin v. UK case. Since then, the conditions deemed admissible or not in order to access legal gender recognition and name change have been under scrutiny, and the Court took an important step ahead in 2017, when it held that compulsory sterilization and mandatory medical interventions leading with a high probability to sterility were inadmissible conditions for accessing legal gender recognition (A.P., Garçon, and Nicot v. France). However, other criteria for legal gender recognition remain unclear. Additionally, even when European instance decisively set a principle, the difficulty lies in the implementation on the national level, as the rights of transgender people are far from respected in practice. Legal gender recognition and access to gender confirmation treatment entail particular obstacles for minors, since the debate of whether self-determination regarding legal gender change and access to gender confirmation treatment should prevail over other public and private interests is even more pressing when children are concerned. Many further obstacles remain, notably in the domain of parenthood and employment, access to transition-related treatments, and their reimbursement by health insurance. Additionally, transphobic hate crimes are rarely identified as such by national criminal legislations, and very few states collect statistics on the matter. It remains difficult to draw general conclusions on transgender policies in Europe, as domestic laws are diverse and do not always match with international law, and national practices do not always comply with domestic and international law—with transgender people often being caught in a labyrinth of incongruent rules and practices.

Article

Paul A. Djupe and Amy Erica Smith

Experiments in religion and politics model a communication system with three elements: who (the sample) is exposed to what (the treatment) and with what potential effect (the outcome). Most experiments in religion and politics focus on one of three types of samples: clergy, the faithful within certain religious groups, or all citizens within a polity. At the core of the experiment is the randomized treatment: an independent variable that the researcher manipulates and randomly assigns to treatment groups that are supposed to be equivalent in all other respects. Certain kinds of treatments tend to be associated with certain kinds of hypothesized outcomes. That is, most experiments in religion and politics involve investigating either (a) how a randomized treatment related to religion affects a political outcome or (b) how a randomized treatment related to politics affects a religious outcome. There are several types of religious treatments that closely mirror the actual insertion of religion into public life: manipulating candidates’ religious affiliations, behavior, and rhetoric; manipulating appeals attributed to religious elites and institutions; priming subjects’ own religious or political beliefs or manipulating other religious attributes of subjects; manipulating the characteristics of other citizens; and manipulating religious institutional cues received by clergy. Experimental methods are everywhere now in the study of religion and politics and provide clear benefits for understanding how religion and politics interact. Perhaps most importantly, the method imposes intellectual rigor, helping scholars pin down theoretically and empirically the precise mechanisms involved in the mutual impact between religion and politics. In addition, experimental control enables scholars to assert more confidently the direction of influence among variables that in the real world plausibly influence each other.