The Spur

Sander-Staudt reflects on keynote delivered at international conference


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Professor Maureen Sander-Staudt of the SMSU Philosophy Department traveled to Leuven, Belgium Sept. 8-10 where she attended the European Association of Centres of Medical Ethics (EACME) and gave a keynote speech relating to morality within the field of medicine.

“I have to say it was one of the most challenging things I have ever done,” Sander-Staudt said.

This is because her audience wanted her to address organizational virtue in medicine within the context of solidarity, which is a concept not as prevalent here as in Europe.

“In America, we really don’t have a lot of solidarity,” Sander-Staudt said. “The sense is that each individual is responsible for getting their own healthcare.”

Sander-Staudt noted that the feeling is different in Europe.

“In Europe, they’re much more socialist,” Sander-Staudt said. “Most countries believe that everyone should have cradle-to-grave healthcare and that the system as a whole should be supported by the nation.”

  Sander-Staudt mentioned that there were no pharmacies like Walgreens, Thrifty-White, or CVS.

“There was just the government pharmacy,” Sander-Staudt said.

She noted that the stores were small, about the size of a small office, and just carried basic medicine.

“You could stop in to any one of those at any time and get what you needed and you wouldn’t pay out-of-pocket,” Sander-Staudt said.

Another difficulty Sander-Staudt came across is that her audience was not who she expected.

“I thought my audience was going to be professional philosophers working in bio-ethics,” Sander-Staudt said.

She noted that there were a number of those, but that there were also many doctors, nurses, and people from other disciplines.

“I went in assuming that people would know a lot about philosophy and some of the references I made,” Sander-Staudt said. “Later I realized that that may have not been the case.”

She began her presentation with a commercial which presents the question of whether or not a company has a soul.

“It never answered the question but it implied that yes, a company does have a soul.”

Sander-Staudt wanted to expand on this question and ask whether an organization can have virtue.

“I argued that whether or not we think an organization can have virtue, people act like they do,” Sander-Staudt said. “These ads show that in our popular culture, we do view organizations as being virtuous and vicious.”

Sander-Staudt said that she believes that we should. If they’re going to have a lot of power, they should be able to be held accountable.

“But I still think there is a philosophical open question about whether or not a corporation can be a person.”

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Sander-Staudt reflects on keynote delivered at international conference