Stacie P. Kershner and Leslie E. Wolf
Law has played a critical role in the great public health achievements of the past century, including vaccination, seat belt use, water fluoridation, and tobacco control. Law continues to be an important tool in this century’s efforts to improve the public’s health, including efforts to prevent chronic illnesses related to obesity. Public health law specifies what must be done or what cannot be done, or law may authorize an array of options regarding what actions are permissible to improve the public’s health. Public health ethics can provide a structure for determining which of the permissible actions authorized by law should be taken. This chapter explores public health law, including its sources and its limits, as well as the relationship between public health law and ethics.
Terence H. Irwin
This chapter analyses various theories of natural law. The discussions cover meta-ethical objections to natural law theory; the views of Mills and Hobbes; a holistic and teleological conception of nature; nature and the precepts of natural law; nature and human good; natural sociality and morality; a defence of naturalism; a voluntarist conception of natural law; an objection to and defence of voluntarism; and natural morality without natural law.
Stephen J. Morse
This chapter discusses whether the findings of the new neuroscience based largely on functional brain imaging raise new normative questions and entail normative conclusions for ethical and legal theory and practice. After reviewing the source of optimism about neuroscientific contributions and the current scientific status of neuroscience, it addresses a radical challenge neuroscience allegedly presents: whether neuroscience proves persons do not have agency. It then considers a series of discrete topics in neuroethics and neurolaw, including the “problem” of responsibility, enhancement of normal functioning, threats to civil liberty, competence, informed consent, end-of-life issues, neuroevidence in criminal cases, and the ethics of caution. It suggests that the ethical and legal resources to respond to the findings of neuroscience already exist and will do so for the foreseeable future.