Dr. Stahl presents on physician-assisted suicide, opioid epidemic in November

Devan Stahl photoCenter Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl gave three presentations this month at local and national events.

Dr. Stahl was invited to give a talk at Georgetown University on November 9 as part of their conference on “Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Theological and Ethical Responses.” In her talk, “Understanding the Voices of Disability Advocates in Physician-Assisted Suicide Debates,” she discussed the disability rights perspective on physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and how it relates to Christian ethics. The presentation argued for the importance of faithfully attending to concerns regarding PAS raised by disability advocates, and considered the ways that the Church has historically failed to offer full honor and respect to the lives of people with disabilities. By attentively listening to disability groups who oppose PAS, Christians may come to realize that they too participate in unjust structures and systems that threaten the lives and dignity of disability advocates.

On November 14, Dr. Stahl was the keynote speaker at the annual Ernest F. Krug III Symposium on Biomedical Ethics, presented by Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. Her talk was titled “The Disability Rights Critique of Physician Aid in Dying Legislation.” Dr Stahl spoke to an audience of medical students and faculty about the disability rights perspective on physician aid in dying, and how it differs from the debates happening in mainstream bioethics. Over the past three decades, disability rights advocates have provided clear and consistent opposition to the legalization of physician aid in dying (PAD), which many believe threatens the lives and well-being of persons with disabilities. The presentation reviewed the common objections to PAD from disability advocates and considered what such objections reveal about the systemic failings of our current health care system.

At the American Academy of Religion Annual Meetings in Denver, CO, Dr. Stahl joined a panel of speakers discussing religious responses to the opioid epidemic. She discussed the ethical tensions that physicians experience when managing the opioid crisis, including whether and how to trust patients who request opioids, the validity of opioid contracts and drug screens, as well as the current legislative restricts on opioid prescribing.

Dr. Stahl presents at American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting

Devan Stahl photoCenter Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl is currently the Vice President of the North American Paul Tillich Society and the Co-Chair of the Tillich: Issues in Theology, Religion and Culture Group at the American Academy of Religion. In November Dr. Stahl attended meetings held by the North American Paul Tillich Society (NAPTS) and the American Academy of Religion in San Antonio, TX. Dr. Stahl gave a paper for NAPTS titled “Tillich and the future of interdisciplinary ethics,” discussing the difficulties in doing Christian ethics in non-religious fields, such as medicine, business, and law. Dr. Stahl discussed both why ethics is becoming an interdisciplinary field in the academy and why it is difficult for Christian ethicists to engage in interdisciplinary work. Dr. Stahl proposed Tillich’s method of correlation can help Christian ethicists be true to their Christian message while adapting it to the current situation and culture in which they live.

Dr. Stahl also gave a paper at the American Academy of Religion in a joint session between the Human Enhancement and Transhumanism Group and the Religion and Disability Studies Group titled “Does Transhumanist eschatology eradicate disability?” Dr. Stahl contended there is a tension at the heart of the transhumanist agenda and disability theology: transhumanists aim to enhance “normal” human traits through novel biotechnologies, whereas disability theologians desire a world wherein disability is accepted rather than eradicated. However, because both disability theologians and transhumanists believe bodily variation or modification cannot sever our connection to God, there is room to creatively imagine ways to modify the body that might be beneficial to persons with disabilities. Dr. Stahl argued “radical prosthetics” might be a point of convergence between the two camps and a way to creatively and jointly signal the kingdom of God through human creations.

Dr. Stahl presents at American Academy of Religion conference

stahl-crop-2015Center Assistant Professor Devan Stahl, PhD, recently traveled to Atlanta to present at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Stahl’s presentation, “Tillich and Transhumanism,” was part of a panel called “Tillich: Issues in Theology, Religion, and Culture.”

Abstract: Amongst those who call themselves “Christian transhumanists” Paul Tillich is one of the most, if not the most, quoted theologian. There are many obvious and not so obvious reasons why so-called Christian transhumanists find a kindred ally in Tillich. In this presentation, Dr. Stahl cautions against believing that Tillich himself would have upheld the moniker of “transhumanist.” More than likely, Tillich would have been deeply skeptical about the ontology and the utopian telos of transhumanism, even though he might have found great promise in some transhumanist technologies. Transhumanism certainly has an ultimate concern, in fact, if, as Tillich says, religion is the personal and social quest for meaning, transhumanism likely fits the mold of a religion more than any other scientific movement, but transhumanism likely comes close to Tillich’s understanding of idolatry—or taking a preliminary concern as ultimate. In this presentation Dr. Stahl explores the ultimate concern of transhumanism and compares it with Tillich’s writings on technology and human progress.

Learn more about Dr. Stahl’s work.