Theology and Philosophy

ACU Luminaries Series: Past Lectures by Thomas H. Murray, PhD

Why We Play? Sports, Values and Drugs

The Rio Olympic Games were marked by disqualifications of many athletes for using performance-enhancing drugs. What makes the use of anabolic steroids, EPO and other forms of doping so persistent and pervasive? The dynamics of athletic competition set the stage for ethical analysis. Some commentators argue that the current system for deterring doping in sport is ineffective, misguided, or both. The standard defense of anti-doping offers two justifications: that it promotes fairness and protects athletes’ health. Critics argue that fairness only requires that all competitors have access to the same performance-enhancing drugs, and that athletes’ health would be better protected if doping were regulated under the care of physicians. Appreciating the realities of competitive sport undermines confidence in the concept of medically supervised doping. A careful examination of what gives sport its values and meaning provides a solid foundation for wanting to preserve a place for sport without performance-enhancing drugs.


Relationships, Autonomy and the Ethics of Research on Children

Autonomy emerged early on as a central concept in Bioethics in response to two problems: Physicians’ excessive paternalism toward their patients; and the mistreatment of research subjects by investigators. The principle of autonomy, and the practice of informed consent it underwrote, were soon established as worthy countermeasures. But autonomy proved to be little help in framing and resolving a wide array of difficult ethical issues in research with children. Relationships play a critical role in the debate over how to justify research with children. Which relationships should count? How should we understand the moral obligations within those relationships?


About Thomas H. Murray, PhD

Thomas H. Murray is President Emeritus of The Hastings Center.  He served as President and CEO of Hastings from 1999 until 2012. Prior to returning to Hastings, he was Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Case Western University School of Medicine and Susan E. Watson Professor of Bioethics (1987-1999) From 2014-2016 he held the Chen Su Lan Centennial Chair (Visiting) at the National University of Singapore School of Medicine. From 1996 through 2001 he served as Presidential appointee on the National Bioethics Advisory Commission and as chair of its Genetics subcommittee. He serves on many editorial boards and has been president of the Society for Health and Human Values and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. He served as Chair of the Ethical Issues Review Panel for the World Anti-Doping Agency. He is currently a member of the Independent IAAF Ethics Board, Vice Chair of Charity Navigator, and on the board of CureSMA. Dr. Murray has testified before many Congressional committees and is the author of more than 250 publications including The Worth of a Child. He is co-editor of Performance-Enhancing Technologies in Sports: Ethical, Conceptual, and Scientific Issues, and the Encyclopedia of Ethical, Legal and Policy Issues in Biotechnology. He is writing a book on values, drugs and sport. In 2004 he received an honorary Doctor of Medicine degree from Uppsala University, the Henry Knowles Beecher Award from The Hastings Center in 2012, and the Patricia Price Browne Prize in 2013.


Thomas H. Murray visited ACU to collaborate on an ACURF-funded project led by Dr David Kirchhoffer of the School of Theology and member of the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. The project, Personhood, Autonomy and Vulnerability in Human Research Ethics, included an expert symposium in Brisbane, at which Dr Murray joined a number of international and Australian experts in research ethics to work on the difficult problem of limitations of autonomy.