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Eagleton Institute of Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics

Centers/Programs


Arthur J. Holland Program on Ethics in Government


2014-2015 Holland Lecture - Ethics: When Government and Medicine Collide – From the Right to Die to Ebola

Noted medical ethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan, the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics in NYU Langone Medical Center's Department of Population Health, spoke under the auspices of the Arthur J. Holland Program. He presented the story of Josh Hardy, a child with a rare and aggressive form of kidney cancer whose parents sought compassionate use of a not-yet-approved medication in a last-ditch attempt to save his life. The example illustrated several key issues about the complex ethical choices that confront doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and patients and their families in various situations, including recent controversies surrounding Ebola and mandatory vaccination. Caplan expanded on the Hardy story to discuss the pros and cons of various legal approaches, as well as issues of cost and compassion. As a polio survivor, Caplan has strong feelings about the public debates regarding vaccinations; while he would allow for some exemptions, he supports mandated vaccination in most cases.


Alan Caplan speaking at the Eagleton Institute of Politics


Short Bio of Arthur Caplan
Arthur Leonard Caplan, PhD, is the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and the founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center's Department of Population Health. He is currently an ethics advisor on synthetic biology to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an agency of the United States Department of Defense.

Caplan is the recipient of many awards and honors including the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics for 2011. He was described as one of the "Ten Most Influential People in Science" by Discover magazine in 2008 and has been honored as one of the "Fifty Most Influential People in American Health Care" by Modern Health Care magazine, one of the "Ten Most Influential People in America in Biotechnology" by the National Journal, and one of the "Ten Most Influential People in the Ethics of Biotechnology" by the editors of Nature Biotechnology.

Caplan is the author or editor of thirty-two books and over 600 papers in peer reviewed journals. He writes a regular column on bioethics for NBC.com and is a monthly commentator on bioethics and health care issues for WebMD/Medscape. Born in Boston, Caplan completed his undergraduate degree at Brandeis University and received a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from Columbia University.