Coming Soon:

Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."

Total Pageviews

Monday, April 27, 2020


"I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course."

This is a part of the Hippocratic Oath.  In my judgment, by sitting quietly while Trump floated the idea of injecting cleansing agents into COVID-19 patients, Deborah Birx violated this oath.  I think she should be stripped of her medical degree.


Jerry Brown said...

In defense of her silence, which is difficult,- I could make an argument that she figures Trump's proposition so obviously ridiculous that no one actually seriously considered implementing it on themselves. And that if she had spoken up, Trump would have just fired her for contradicting him and that therefore would be bereft of her counsel going forward having placed some toady in her spot. Gotta love Fauci though. Even Trump knows he can't just fire him. Keeping him away from the microphones though.

Jerry Brown said...

US House of Representatives should just hire Dr. Fauci to head some health committee that they create and have him give daily briefings in the House chamber. That is within their power to do as far as I can figure out. Press would cover that for sure.

Charles Pigden said...

Professor, I think you are being a bit harsh. My reading of Dr Birx is that she is trying desperately to stay on Trump’s good side (which involves conniving at or participating in egregious flattery) in order to inject a little Science-based sanity into his otherwise idiotic deliberations. For even a tiny smidgen of sanity might save hundreds or even thousands of lives. Doing a good thing a few days earlier or a bad thing a few days later can make an enormous difference to the spread of the disease. She needs to be there to facilitate the good and inhibit the bad and she won't be there for long if she talks back too openly. From a utilitarian point of view it might actually be her duty to wade through the slime just to save a few lives. Indeed I would not be surprised if there isn’t a tacit pact between Trump’s top epidemiologists. Fauci and Redfield are ready to politely contradict the President publicly whilst Birx stays mum in public in the hopes of maintaining her private influence if the other two get fired (which apparently is very much on the cards). So don’t be too severe if (momentarily flummoxed by the sheer absurdity of the thing) she did not contradict Trump directly especially as (once she had collected her wits) it probably occurred to her that others could be relied on to do this for her (as indeed they did).

Jerry Brown said...

Plus, she was obviously stunned at the idiocy of the President. Watching it on television I also was stunned and would have been at a loss of words also.

Charles Pigden said...

It has just occurred to me as an occasional ethics teacher that the case of Dr Birx might make an interesting example of a moral dilemma to be resolved differently in different normative frameworks.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

Dr. Birx aside, it takes an awesome ignorance to suggest the administration of poison, by whatever route, is of therapeutic value. Trump was told bleach/disinfectants kills covid 19 on surfaces in a matter of seconds. From this he concludes that it should kill covid in the body if ingested, injected or topically applied. The only conclusion is that Trump doesn't know that there are poisons in these products. The only people who don't know this are children. If Trump is as ignorant as a child he should be removed from office. It's time for the 25th amendment.

Trump will be removed for incapacity. Pence will be removed for being so stupid he didn't recognize Trump's incapacity, and Pelosi is president.

As the Emily Litella character on SNL said, "Nevermind."

Anonymous said...

In a democracy, people get what they deserve.

Jerry Brown said...

Well Christopher, you kill the host- you kind of kill the virus. Anyone who drinks enough bleach is never going to have a problem with the virus. They won't be alive anymore unfortunately. We got a moron for a President. Pretty obvious.

LFC said...

Re Charles Pigden above (comment about different normative frameworks):

Does seem like a close-to-textbook example of a dilemma in the realm of moral choice (except for reasons suggested, not that much of a dilemma).

Basically the choice was: Do I go on TV the next day and politely say the Pres. is out of his ******* mind, or do I keep quiet because the consequences of acting otherwise would be on balance worse for public health? Could be fitted under a number of rubrics, say Weber's ethic of conviction vs. ethic of responsibility -- maybe.

p.s. One would also have to weigh whether any people actually followed the Pres's suggestion and harmed themselves vs. the likely harm from the poss. firing of Birx if she spoke up.

s. wallerstein said...

I agree with Jerry Brown.

We're all ready, I believe, to act rapidly if we see a woman or a child being beaten, if we witness a black person being racially insulted, if we see a gay person or a fat person being mocked or bullied, but the idea that the President of the United States, even Trump, would tell people to inject cleaning fluid is so weird that when one hears it, one will be so stunned that one will not know how to react, one will probably wonder for a moment if one actually heard what one heard because it's utterly incredible, and the whole surreal idea will take some time to digest.

R McD said...

To my mind, there’s no disputing that it is criminally irresponsible for someone in a position of public leadership to suggest that the consumption of bleach might cure or prevent an illness, just as there’s no disputing that accessories after the fact should at the very least be strongly criticized. But the following points should perhaps also be kept in mind:

marcel proust said...

Anonymous wrote (4/27 @ 10:05 PM):In a democracy, people get what they deserve.

Mencken said it better: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

What do all y'all think of certain outlets' policy of not covering the daily briefings? Not defending the policy (I myself am undecided as to its merits), but if more followed it, the idiocy about injecting cleaners would have (arguably) reached far less people.