Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics & McDonald Scholar

featured matters

New essay in forthcoming book:

Oh, That We Might Learn to See Everything Differently: Interrogating a Baconian Spirit, Confessing (In)humanity

Heeding American theologian William Stringfellow’s claim that dissent is a humanizing action, Ashley Moyse here exposes the failure of transhumanists to see human being rightly. Employing critical philosophy of technology, he shows how the modern imagination in general has been turned away from the real world of life and toward the fictional world of a future perfect of re-engineered and re-animated zeros and ones, or sequences of qubits, which in turn leads to the construction of anti-human desires. Concomitantly, while dissenting from the profane doctrine that perpetuates such desires, the chapter points, by way of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth (among others), toward a schooling in and by Christ, a turn toward Christian traditions and their treatment of the body, in order to present a robust theological examination of the biological reality of being. Such reality will be illumined to demonstrate that the body—the physical word of the soul—is essential for unity.

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For those captive to the broken world of late modernity, wherein ageing and dying persons become vulnerable to despair, this book offers a diagnostic of such despair. It also resources the practices of a realistic, humanising hope that might enable a strength for person to journey with and for others, together, through such despair. Thus, by addressing the aetiology of despair experienced by people confronting ageing, frailty and dying, and drawing upon the writings of Gabriel Marcel, among others, Ashley Moyse reveals the problematic life of a broken world with its functionalising metaphors, instrumentalising reasoning and objectifying desires that offer no hope at all. It is a broken world where despair generates behaviours that anticipate suicide or other, often tragic, outcomes that impede or greatly curtail or even completely inhibit human flourishing. Resisting despair, but living through it, Moyse presents the activity of the moral life, demonstrating a way persons might be resourced through an intersubjective and reflective pedagogy, with its habits or practices that enable a humanising hope, liberating human beings to become those readied to confront the actualities of human living and dying, and encouraged to grow and to develop as ‘wayfarers’, hopefully.

New Essays

current research

Book Project
Healthy and Sick Life: Bodily Experiences and Medical Excellences

Attentive to experiences of bodily life in sickness and in health, and orienting the excellences, or habits, that might enable a realistic philosophy and practice of medicine, this book offers a study of physicians and patients who confront health in sickness and who (ought to) correspond creatively, while giving shape to the respective vocations of physicianship and patienthood. Put differently, as a hermeneutic and phenomenological examination, and as a study in the philosophy and practice of medicine, Healthy and Sick Life concentrates on the life of sickly bodies caught up into communities of caring strangers—who are their healthy and sickly bodies too—in order to understand corporeality, communality, and the art of medicine.

Book Project
Growing Good Doctors: A Metaphor for Husbanding Moral Medicine

Co-authored with Lydia Dugdale

The practice of good medicine and the making of good doctors depends on attentive, hard work. Such work ought to be shaped by a practice of caretaking. Drawing from an agrarian metaphor, such caretaking is the practice of moral husbandry. Yet the preoccupations with economic and technological metaphors prevalent in contemporary medicine, including in medical education, like that of modern industrialized agriculture, can be and have been corrupting. The aim of this book is therefore twofold. First, it is to critically examine such metaphors and the ways they shape our seeing of and agency in the world. Second, the aim is to understand the hard work of moral husbandry and the labor of ‘directing the just and loving gaze upon an individual reality’ (Murdoch) so that a doctor might be as good as possible and good medicine might be practiced for the flourishing of her patients in their living and their dying.

Essay for Public Lecture
Touching Purpose and the Soul of Medicine: Discovering the Material of Hopeful Practice

Psychiatrist and anthropologist Arthur Kleinman has argued that medicine has become 'soulless' (Lancet 394, no. 10199 [2019]: pp. 630-631). While I might agree with the content of his analysis, I argue that Kleinman's conclusion is wrong. Rather, medicine has become preoccupied by the soul, which has been put to work through the determinative production and consumption of information. Franco Berardi might agree, while arguing that contemporary labor in our increasingly digitized world has harnessed the soul as it exploits the mind, language, and emotion for the purposes of cognitive capital. Philosopher Richard Kearney also laments the advance of digital technologies has impaired our sense of touch and, therefore, our gripon reality. In such a digitized world that prioritizes the trafficking of information at ‘the speed of thought’, our bodies are divested of flesh while we lose touch with touch itself. The November lecture in the Columbia Center for Clinical Medical Ethics autumn lecture series will explore the figures noted above while thinking about the material of hopeful practice and the carnal purpose(s) of medicine.

Ongoing writing projects

an older woman holding a baby's hand
an older woman holding a baby's hand
man wearing medical mask and robe
man wearing medical mask and robe
purple and green light digital wallpaper
purple and green light digital wallpaper