Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX philosophy student presents honours work at Atlantic philosophy conference

February 5th, 2019
StFX honours philosophy student Jamie Samson (right) pictured with a visiting speaker, Dr. Eleonore Stump of St. Louis University

Jamie Samson, a StFX honours philosophy student from Louisdale, NS, has been working on the topic of organ donation as part of her honours thesis in philosophy for only six months, but the quality of her research has been so high that her paper was accepted and she presented on the topic at the recent Atlantic Region Philosophers Association meeting. The only undergraduate student to present at the conference, Ms. Samson’s paper was on the topic of ‘The Ethics of Organ Donation.’

In her paper, Ms. Samson argues that the need for donor organs for transplants is very great and, since so few are available, Canadian society ought to take greater steps to see that organs are available. Instead of the current ‘opt in’ system, where individuals have to indicate their willingness to be a donor, Ms. Samson argues that it would be ethical – and perhaps ethically obligatory, to revise the system, and have an ‘opt out’ system. This, she believes would not only make more organs available for transplant purposes, but would also address the problem of families faced with decisions about the organs of loved ones who may be dying and incapable of expressing consent.

According to Dr. William Sweet, Chair of the StFX Philosophy Department, it is rare to have undergraduate presentations at the conference, although StFX philosophy students have frequently attended the conference. He says although Ms. Samson’s participation in the conference this year was unique, last year another philosophy student, Leah Gray, who graduated in 2018, also presented at the conference on “The Ethical and Moral Implications of a Hook-up Culture.”

“Participating in the conference gave me a unique opportunity to do a presentation that required my work to be both concise and yet detailed enough for others to understand what I’d spent so much time on,” Ms. Samson says. “I was impressed that students like me were welcome, and that my presentation was as well attended as those of professional philosophers. I felt that my work was placed on equal footing with more experienced philosophers, which was beneficial for my work and for my confidence.”

Ms. Samson’s research was initially funded through an Irving Research Mentorship Award, offered through StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership with an endowment established by Irving Oil, allowed her to work on the topic under the supervision of Dr. Sweet.

This research is, in part, made possible by the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

 

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