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Philosophy, Medicine, and Diverse Cultures: April 20-21, 2007

All sessions are free and open to scholars, clinicians, and the general public

All sessions are free and open to scholars, clinicians, and the general public
Assisted Presentations
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Conference: Philosophy, Medicine, and Diverse Cultures

The University of Toledo, OH

Bancroft Campus

Registration and most events: Snyder Memorial Hall 2110

 (general parking in Campus Lot 10)


April 20th and 21st of 2007


Friday, April 20th






Snyder 2110


Robert Sheehan

Interim Provost/Executive

Vice President


Charles Blatz

Professor of Philosophy, UT,

And Director, Humanities Institute, University of Toledo




Registration and 



Snyder 2110

Shahid Athar M.D.FACP,FACE

Clinical Associate Professor

Indiana University School of Medicine


Introduction to Health

and Islamic Philosohphy


Snyder 2110

Thomas J. Papadimos

Departments of Anesthesiology, Medicine, and Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Toledo

College of Medicine

Healthcare access as a right, not a privilege:  a construct of Western thought






1:15-1:50 pm

Snyder 2110




            Nelda Koralewski

        M.A.Philosophy, UT ,and Ph.D. Candidate,  Michigan State University

 ( presented by Susan M. Purviance,

  Professor of Philosophy, UT)

Lunch, Phoenicia Restaurant

Student Union Level Two,

Northwest Corner



  Ethical Theory and

   Cultural Diversity:

  Case Studies from

Non-Western and

Ethnic Perspectives


Snyder 2110

Madeline Muntersbjorn

Associate Professor of Philosophy

University of Toledo

Hydranencephaly and Conscious Care



*Convene in

Snyder 2100

S. Amjad Hussain

Emeritus Professor of Surgery,

College of Medicine, University of Toledo

Can Prayers Alter A Disease Process?


5:00pm Keynote



Student Union

2nd floor east

Shahid Athar M.D.FACP,FACE

Clinical Associate Professor

Indiana University School of Medicine

Former Chair, Medical Ethics, Islamic Medical Association of North America

Keynote Lecture:


Health and Islamic Philosophy


Panelists and

UT Philosophy Department


El Vaquero Restaurant

3302 Secor Road, Toledo



Saturday April 21st





9:15 – 10:00am

Snyder 2110

Blair P. Grubb

Medical College of Ohio, Division of Cardiology,

Toledo, Ohio, USA


With a Little More Soul




Snyder 2110





Snyder 2110


Cynthia Arslanian-Engoren


Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Nursing


Joan Callahan 

Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program,  University of Kentucky

Betsy Hopkins,  Ph.D. candidate, University of Kentucky Department of Philosophy


Health Disparities of Women with Cardiac Disease



 Visiting Invisibility:Lesbians in the Waiting Room

(feminist issues in health care)

12:00-1:00 pm


Lunch, Phoenicia Restaurant,

Student Union Level 2


Snyder 2110




Snyder 2110


Patrick C. Beeman

M1 Student,

University of Toledo College of Medicine




Susan M. Purviance




 Getting Our Priorities Straight or Which Comes First: the Catholic or the Physician





Acknowledgements and Thanks







Gender Disparities in the Delivery of Cardiac Healthcare


                                Arslanian-Engoren, Cynthia



Gender disparities in the cardiac healthcare delivery lead to increased morbidity and mortality in women.  Women are less likely to receive aggressive diagnostics, treatments, and potentially life-saving therapies, but are more likely to die after a myocardial infarction.  Disparities in physician clinical decisions have been documented and implicated in healthcare disparities.  However, while studies examining nurses’ decisions are limited, the discussant’s evolving program of research has focused on understanding nurses’ triage decisions for adults with symptoms suggestive of acute coronary syndromes. A synopsis of studies conducted by the discussant will be presented that indicate disparities in nurses’ cardiac triage decisions based on patient gender and age; limitations in the ability of nurses’ decisions to predict an admission or discharge diagnosis for acute coronary syndromes; and the reliance on limited patient cues to render a decision of acute coronary syndromes.  Lastly, recommendations to improve the delivery of cardiac healthcare for women will be presented. 




Health and Islamic Philosophy


Athar, Shahid


 Islam considers health care a basic human right.  Being health conscious is not a duty only for medical professionals, but for all Muslims.  Science has confirmed much of what is presented in the Qur’an, and it will continue to do so.  It is through the Qur’an that we are given guidance and instruction on the proper ways to care for our bodies, and by observing the five pillars of Islam, Muslims will maintain healthy and productive lifestyles.  The establishment of Islam includes the physical wellbeing of Muslims and proper attention to nutrition, exercise, and disease, in relation to the direction provided by the Qur’an will increase physical and spiritual fulfillment, in addition to filling a duty.



              Getting Our Priorities Straight Or Which Comes First:

                                  the Catholic or the Physician?

      Beeman,  Patrick C.


Beginning with Catholic theological premises, this paper argues for a prioritization of religious commitment in medical practice. A variety of sources in theology, philosophy, and medicine make the case that religious commitment (and specifically Catholicism) ought to play a central role in the physician’s practice.  The paper then explores how medicine might be practiced within the context of Catholicism by drawing on Edmund Pellegrino’s philosophy of medicine, briefly confronts the question of “moral dissenters” within the profession of medicine.




Visiting Invisibility:

Lesbians in the Waiting Room


                                           Callahan, Joan, and Hopkins, Betsy



The difference between visibility and invisibility is defined as “the recognition of difference from self and the awareness and acceptance of the reality of the other.”  This means realizing the diversity that exists in Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transsexual (LGBT) communities. This presentation will assist medical professionals in becoming better educated in the needs  present within the context of this particular minority group, including the complexity of self-disclosure and the ramifications of lack of legal status for partnered relationships.


Sexual minorities continue to remain invisible when it comes to certain healthcare issues.     The idea of invisibility of the LGBT is an important concept to address in the medical profession because receiving care and treatment involves trust in making the decision to disclose one’s sexuality. Addressing issues of the community, and reversing issues of invisibility, involves recognition, awareness and acceptance by those involved in the various medical professions.




With a Little More Soul

                                         Grubb, Blair


Through the work of the poet and social philosopher David Whyte, and the poet and physician William Carlos Williams, Blair argues that, for physicians, a way of proceeding as a physician through vulnerability and loss is to see ourselves as part of a greater story.  Patients themselves can show doctors a way to restore soul to harried living.  Patients do invite doctors to share in their lives.  Grubb recalls an incident through which he is drawn into the life of a patient and how, for him, writing about his patients’ lives and encouraging other physicians to do so is one way of “bringing a vital celebration of life into the very center of our existence” (Whyte, The Heart Aroused, 17).





                   Can Prayers Alter A Disease Process?


Hussain, M. Amjad



Culture, religion and traditions are powerful ingredients of a mix that dictates human attitudes towards health and disease. Even in the modern era of medical practice that appears right out of sci-fi books with its miraculous cures and treatment, our attitudes are often colored by our individual or societal religious and cultural underpinnings.


While the power of prayer cannot be validated on strict scientific grounds it remains the mainstay of healing process for many people. A sense of well-being dictated by religious beliefs enters a dimension where science is but a partner in helping achieve the goal of coming to terms with complete recovery, indolence or death. Science has yet to define the mechanism and the boundaries where a symphony of biochemical reactions in our bodies make us feel good or cope with the stress about the predicament we face in illness.


This paper argues in the light of anecdotal and scientific evidence that cultural and religious beliefs can play a major role in shaping our attitudes towards illness and in some cases might also alter the course of the disease.




     Ethical Theory and Cultural Diversity:  Case Studies

                   from Non-Western Cultural and Ethnic Perspectives

                                      Koralewski, Nelda


            It is argued that an ethical medical community--physicians, patients, nurses, family members, technicians and others—views patient autonomy from an egalitarian perspective.  Such an ethical community would understand that respect for each individual’s paradigm, which I refer to as a particular way of being in the world, is often vital to the healing process.  This study takes character-based virtue ethics and Buddhist conceptions of moral striving as a basis for the ethical medical community as it respects cultural differences through reasonable accommodation.  Some cultural differences, as among some Southeast Asian immigrants and some Muslim populations, are readily apparent, while those of other groups, such as some Appalachians, have differences that emerge only in longer conversations that seek knowledge of the patient and not just knowledge of his or her condition.  


Rawls’ Second Principle of Justice, which holds that inequalities in social standing should be arranged so they are of greatest benefit to the least advantaged, supports a view that such patients are among the least advantaged in clinical care.  Transportation distances and difficulties, poverty, language barriers, and not enough time to get to know the patient all unjustly burden patients from such groups.  Translation services and on-staff cultural expertise are expensive, but are needed to lessen these effects.



Hydranencephaly and Conscious Care

                                Muntersbjorn, Madeline


Infants born with severe cephalic disorders inspire questions about the relationship between mind and brain and between caregiver and recipient. This presentation focuses on one particular disorder, hydranencephaly, a rare neurological condition wherein the cerebral cortex inter alia is absent and replaced with cerebrospinal fluid.  Since the causes of this condition are heterogeneous and the prognosis for afflicted patients is grim, these children inspire ethicists and medical professionals alike to ask: “What should we do for patients when there’s nothing we can do?” This question assumes falsely that if a disease, deformity or disability can be neither prevented nor cured, appropriate responses are reduced to a null set wherein any possible plan of action is just as good (i.e., pointless) as any other. When we take a closer look at the myriad things that may be done to nurture the lives of these unique human beings, we realize the limitations inherent in this assumption. Further, we reap insights into the origins of human consciousness in relationships of reciprocity, mutual witnessing, and taking conscious care of one another.





Healthcare access as a right, not a privilege:

                                    a construct of Western thought


                                        Papadimos, Thomas J.



Over 45 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured.  Those living in poverty exhibit the worst health status.   Employment, education, income, and race are important factors in a person’s ability to acquire healthcare access. Having established that there are people lacking healthcare access due to multi-factorial etiologies, the question arises as to whether the intervention necessary to assist them in obtaining such access should be considered a privilege, or a right.  The right to healthcare access is examined from the perspective of Western thought.  Specifically through the works of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Paine, Hannah Arendt, John Rawls, and Norman Daniels, which are accompanied by a contemporary example of intervention on behalf of the medically needy by The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute.


As human beings we are all valuable social entities whereby, through the force of morality, through implicitly forged covenants among us as individuals and between us and our governments, and through the natural rights we maintain as individuals and those we collectively surrender to the common good, it has been determined by nature, natural laws, and natural rights that human beings have the right, not the privilege, to healthcare access.














University of Toledo Philosophy Conferences