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Kenneth Kipnis, PhD

Kenneth Kipnis, PhD

May 28th, 1943 - August 26th, 2021

Biography


Kenneth Kipnis, philosopher, medical ethicist, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, died peacefully on August 26th, 2021, in Portland, Oregon. His spouse, Leanne Beth Logan, was at his side.


Ken forged his career as a self-described “field ethicist” in the Socratic tradition. Working with professionals across a wide variety of disciplines — especially medicine, law, and public health — he sought to apply philosophical principles to complex moral dilemmas. His life’s work was to determine what, if anything, the study of philosophy had to offer those in profound ethical distress.


Ken was born May 28,1943 in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City to Samuel Kipnis and Lola Firstenberg. He was initially drawn to philosophy and ethics while in high school in Teaneck, New Jersey. He graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1965 with a B.A. in Philosophy. Between his junior and senior years at Reed, Ken participated in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer, registering disenfranchised black voters and teaching at a Greenville, MS “Freedom School.”


Ken received his M.A at the University of Chicago in 1966 and PhD from Brandeis University in 1972. He later studied at the University of Chicago Law School as a post-doctoral student-at-large. While at Brandeis, he taught at an experimental school called the Satya School. His love of teaching at both the Satya School and the Freedom School led him to pursue a career in academia; however, he was determined to move beyond it. Ken writes:


"I had begun to appreciate that my specialization, curiously, did not in any readily apparent way equip me to disentangle and resolve concrete ethical problems occurring in what Wittgenstein called ‘the stream of life.’ I was able to trot out the main accounts of ethics and their histories. I knew the salient tenets of the chief proponents, the arguments and the counterarguments. Given an ethical dilemma, I could set out several lines of inquiry. But it was a serious problem for me that philosophy, as a discipline, lacked consensus on a favored approach and, more importantly, did not seem to be very concerned about carrying its conversation beyond the campus, where there was work to be done... Like a significant number of my colleagues, I have sallied beyond the walls of the university. We who take this path are, like Socrates, endeavoring to practice our craft within the larger community itself."


Ken taught in Philosophy departments at Purdue University and Lake Forest College before joining the faculty at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1979, where he remained for 37 years. He served as chair of the department for several years. Never one to stop working, during his sabbatical years, he had appointments at the American Medical Association in Chicago, the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and the College of Charleston.


For over 40 years, Ken systematically applied principles of ethics to challenging moral questions faced by professionals in law, medicine, nursing, early childhood education, criminal justice and the military. Living a life rendering aid in the borderlands between academia and real-world teams in profound ethical distress, he both sought out and attracted seemingly intractable ethical problems. In addition to publishing several books and dozens of articles in professional journals, he helped to create codes of ethics, served on boards of organizations and hospital ethics committees, provided expert testimony in court cases, and helped develop language for several laws adopted in Hawaii. 


Topics to which he contributed important scholarship include, triage during pandemics and natural disasters; the status of aborted fetuses showing signs of life at delivery; the treatment of infants born with ambiguous genitalia; the nature of brain death; doctor-parent decision-making for infants in the NICU; treatment of pediatric cancer; statewide strategies for confronting STD transmission during the early years of the HIV pandemic; medical care in prisons and prisoners’ consent to medical experimentation; and petitions for the sterilization of mentally incapacitated adults who were wards of the state of Hawaii, among others.


After living in Hawaii for several decades, Ken returned with Leanne to Portland, where he enjoyed frequenting the famed movie theaters and visiting the campus of his alma mater. He was a member of the Northeast Village PDX, where he contributed to discussions about aging in community and shared his enthusiastic reflections on books and movies.


Ken thought seriously about his social roles and the obligations that are consistent with one’s practical identity. One of his most satisfying experiences was being a good father. He challenged his son Adam to think critically and independently and to question authority, even his own. They had a beautiful father-son relationship. Ken often talked about what it meant to be a good husband, father, brother, and took very seriously his “avuncular responsibilities.” He especially loved being a new grandfather to Asa. In his role as a partner and spouse Ken shared over 25 years of deep love and playful banter with Leanne.


Ken lived life with gusto and enthusiasm. He described himself as a “binge learner” and was voraciously curious about everything and everyone. He would strike up friendly conversation in any setting and was particularly interested in how people thought and what gave their lives value and meaning.


He was a reader, writer, collector of practical gadgets, a lover of film and music, and an accomplished 12-string guitarist. In the early 1960s, Ken studied guitar with Rev. Gary Davis and mastered the Piedmont Blues style; he also played in a jug band while at Reed College. In later years, his interest in folk tradition extended to contra dancing, where he made many friends.


Ken is survived by his wife Leanne, his son Adam Smith-Kipnis, his grandson Asa Smith-Kipnis, brothers Robert and Harvey, extended family, and many friends and colleagues who will miss his magnanimous spirit and wry humor as well as his insights and proddings.


An online memorial service is planned. In lieu of flowers, donations to be used for scholarships for undergraduates majoring in Philosophy at Reed College (which Ken described as “the perfect place for an extended intellectual bender”) are encouraged. 


https://www.reed.edu/givingtoreed/online-giving/index.php 


Please direct your gift to financial aid in memory of Kenneth Kipnis.

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Family

About

Name Kenneth Kipnis, PhD
Date of Birth May 28th, 1943
Date of Death August 26th, 2021
Home Town New York, NY, US 
Other City Portland, OR, US 
In Memoriam Donation Reed College
Family

Family

SpouseLeanne Logan
SiblingsHarvey Kipnis, Robert Kipnis
ParentsSamuel Kipnis, Lola Firstenberg Kipnis
ChildrenAdam Benjamin Smith-Kipnis
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Tributes



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Sasha Bley-Vroman published a tribute .

We hated to let Ken and Leanne leave Honolulu! Here's our farewell gathering (I'm sure they had many). But we were glad they had found their perfect place in Portland. And now-- How can this be? And how can I have missed so much? Reading these "pages" I realize how much I didn't know about Ken. The professional work, of course, but I didn't know he had such a bright, breathing style of writing! I don't think I knew he came from Washington Heights, where I had grown up. (He was gone by then.) I knew he studied guitar with Dave van Ronk (!) but I never knew he studied with the Rev. Gary Davis (!). And why did we never ask him to play? Well, we must be satisfied with what we had, which was a warm friendship and many happy hours of dancing and of talking. We are so very sorry, Leanne. Me ke aloha pumehana.

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Marianne Luken published a comment .

Thank you for this photo, Sasha. Ken was always a bright light in our contradance community and a thoughtful, interesting friend to converse with when we weren’t dancing. Of course I had no idea that he had made so many significant contributions to his field and to difficulty issues that concern all of us, but none of his accomplishments surprise me. I was privileged to work with Leanne after she joined the faculty at HPU, and send her heartfelt condolences. Blessings to all in Ken’s ‘ohana. He was a splendid Mensch and attracted people with heart and intellect into his circle.

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Lynne Coward published a tribute .

Ken's inquiring mind and spirit must remain with us at NE Village. In our brief times together, I always left eager for another "round".

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Todd Coward published a comment .

I also attended the Celebration of Life with Lynne. Ken regularly attended the conversations in the "Village Square" - a monthly event from the Northeast Village that Ken had joined. I often sat next to him andwould try to start a social conversation, but Ken wasn't very interested in "light" conversation - he always wanted to get to a more substantive or provacative issue, which was always respectful and worthy of my consideration. I will miss him.

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Katalina published a tribute .

Ken was a great person. I enjoyed his company. It was always nice to talk to him -- someone who was thoughtful, fun, smart, caring, respectful and with a sense of humor. We talked about politics, writing and work, and sometimes movies and other things. I have fond memories of game nights and contradances. At contradances, he stood out for wearing bright sometimes multi-colored socks! He would bring ice cream to game nights. It was fun playing with a bunch of really smart people!

In 2016, when I was advocating to change a Hawaii law to allow adults who had been adopted in Hawaii access to their adoption records, he wrote supportive testimony. The reform bill did pass.

I appreciated his being open to new things. I was impressed when he went to Burning Man as a senior! He said everyone was expected to contribute something while there. He made a sign that offered help for people who had ethical dilemmas and invited them to sit down and discuss their situations with him.

Addendum after attending the service: I wish I had spent more time with him too. I learned a lot about him from the service and reading all the online memorial comments.
My condolences to all and thank you.
Katalina

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Pulelehua Ruthmarie Quirk published a tribute .

Ken was so much fun to talk to, sing and dance in the wonders of life. I met him initially as a librarian and I loved his serious and irreverent moments. I am so grateful that I had time to know him... He is missed.

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Bob Holmes published a tribute .

I haven't seen Ken and Leanne for too many years, but I am often reminded of how special they are. Both have done so much difficult good in the world.
What I most like about Ken is his love for people, his curiosity, near perpetual smile, and the sparkle in his eyes when he's feeling especially excited, provocative, witty, or funny. I think of Ken and Leanne whenever someone tells a funny story. (government pager in the latrine) And, if someone mentions 'wedding', I'm reminded of how even the simplest oversight can upset the most careful planning. (the infamous Long Island wedding)
Thank you Ken, for enriching my life.

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Susan Chandler published a tribute .

I was thinking about how I first met Ken. I too had been at UH for many years and we both hated the stifing bureaucracy. Ken bravely served on the Faculty Senate which took Job-like patience. In a moment of weakness, I agreed to serve on a faculty committee that seemed to be a no-brainer. The issue was whether the Manoa grading system should go from being able to use only grades (A,B,C,etc) to being able to use grades with minuses and plusses. Faculty could do this if they wanted to and didn't have to if they didn't. So, could this be a problem? Did this need a faculty committee? At the first meeting, which I had presumed would be the last, Ken asked "Before we move ahead, I think we have to discuss...what is a grade?" Hmm. After about 5 meetings, I quit. Many years alter the option emerged without faculty senate debate or comment. Ken was a thinker and usually the smartest guy in the room, no doubt. He will be missed.

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Lance published a tribute .

Good humored, Ken loved to laugh, friendly, tolerant, sought understanding before judgment, clear writer. Engaging and instructive to communicate with. Miss him.

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Georgia Acevedo published a comment .

My first encounter with Ken was as an advisory. He and Sarah, Adam’s Mother, were amid a custody battle over Adam. Sarah contacted me to be an expert witness as an early childhood/child development professional on her behalf. In listening to Ken’s view, I came to appreciate his brilliance and his devotion to his son. We came to respect each other’s points of view and Ken even had my son provide childcare for Adam on a few occasions.
Beyond these early encounters, I came to appreciate his work with my friend Stephanie Feeney on Ethics for early childhood educators. Then I lost touch with him for years until I again became reacquainted with him through Contra Dancing.
I am so sorry for his passing but am glad to have had known him. He was such a brilliant and gentle man. My deepest sympathies to Leanne, Adam and all his ‘Ohana. How wonderful that he lived to be the Grandfather of Asa!

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Kimberly Towler published a tribute .

Ken and I met when we were appointed to the Governor's Reproductive Rights Commission in the late 1980s.
I thought he was egotistical, arrogant and far too argumentative.
At the meetings he and I would get into complex arguments on the legal and philosophical issues of sterization.
Finally, the nurse on the committee quite firmly said, "Stop!"
Shortly thereafter while explaining the underlying Bill to legislators, we took a break, leaning over the railing of the legislative building, where Ken confided his worries about custody of his son. My heart went out to him, as Family Court was my milieu. I rrealized our arguments were fascinating and fun: they informed my thinking for all of my career, and my life.
Whether it was me or Ken, I saw under my first impressions there was a brilliant, deeply thoughtful, very kind man. We became steadfast friends, meeting regularly at Kincaid's or Assaggio's. I was delighted to meet Leanne, who has the intelligence and spunk to give herself and Ken a happy, zesty marriage.
I miss Ken so much, still finding myself thinking, "oh, Ken would be interested in this."
Thank you, Leanne, from the bottom of my heart, for chosing to share your life with Ken, and taking such loving care of him these last few months.

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Ruth Guffee published a comment .

Ken and I met at Reed College in 1963. We had common interests in folk music, folk dancing (Ken’s unique blend of careful focus and exuberance made him a very good dancer), and hashing over life’s big questions in the coffee shop. Over the 50+ years of our friendship, we kept in touch sometimes more often, sometimes less. But I always knew that Ken would be glad to pick up where we left off, and happy to share the latest initiative in his lifelong practice of seeking ways to apply philosophical principles to make life better for others.

His work in medical ethics and respect for patients’ rights impacted me in a personal way. After one hiatus of a few years, when Ken learned that I had become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he told me that the curriculum for his medical ethics class featured a hypothetical case involving a Witness patient. He would present the case to his students at the beginning of the semester, and then again at the end, to assess his students' progress. Our discussion led to Ken’s consulting with hospitals and providing expert testimony in behalf of Witness patients. He loved to be of real help. Through all our discussions, when our viewpoints diverged, Ken was always gracious and kind—eager to understand the nuances of reasoning he didn’t agree with, even as he zealously expounded his own position.

It was heartwarming to hear the pure joy in Ken’s voice as he spoke about his grandson Asa— assuring me with as much intensity and certainty as he ever expressed about any philosophical issue that Asa is really--objectively!--“the cutest kid on the planet.”

I am grateful to be able to read others' comments and reminiscences of Ken, to understand more fully the impact of his life and work. I love what Leanne said—that with Ken, conventional limits were just the starting point of the discussion. That is so perfect. Leanne, thank you for taking such wonderful care of this principled and caring man who was a dear friend to many. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. May you find comfort and peace at this very sad time.

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Stephanie Feeney, Professor Of Education Emerita, University Of Hawaii published a tribute .

It is hard to find words to express the significance to my life of my relationship with Ken or the importance of his contribution to the field of early childhood education. In the mid-l980s I was asked to explore the possibility of developing a code of ethics for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (the largest association for teachers of young children in the United States). I had no idea where to begin, but I remembered hearing Ken give a talk on ethics and I called him in the hope that he might give me some guidance. He offered his help and thus began a wonderful friendship and collaboration that resulted in the development of a code of ethics for early childhood educators than has been an important part of the early childhood field since l989. Ken was a wonderful mentor and friend. He helped early childhood educators understand our ethical responsibilities to children and their families and how to use our code of ethics to best benefit them. As a result of his counsel the early education field has a code and supporting literature that are widely known and used. I am deeply grateful for Ken's mentoring and friendship.

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Nancy K. Freeman, Professor Emerita Of Early Childhood Education, University Of South Carolina published a comment .

Stephanie guided my dissertation's examination of ethics in early childhood education and through her I was introduced to Ken's contributions to the field. He led me through a long-distance (Hawaii to South Carolina) study of foundational works that grounded my study. Through the years I have become very familiar with, and extremely grateful for, the influence he has had on ethics in our field. His guidance contributed to the articulation of the field's core values and of childhood educators' responsibilities to children, the children's families, their colleagues and the communities and they serve. These contributions are an important part of his legacy that continue to inform and inspire those who work with young children.

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Haavi Morreim published a tribute .

For me, Ken was a dear friend and highly valued colleague. On many occasions, when I had drafted a paper and wanted critical feedback, I called on Ken. I could count on him to read the piece carefully and respond thoughtfully and honestly. For serious writers, few things are of greater value. An incredible givt. I would always tell Ken "Please be nasty! vicious! Tell me where the potholes are … don't let me go out there nekkid!" Ken knew well how important such collegiality was, and he never failed to take my thinking to the next level. Thank you, Ken.

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Sarah Shannon published a comment .

I met Ken years and years ago as a young faculty member. We had a great discussion about teaching and he very generously shared with me some teaching materials that he had honed over many years. The next year when I saw him at SHHV/ASBH, he asked how my teaching was going and if I had used the materials. I had -- and had found the learning exercise he had shared to be wonderful. We had many lively discussions about teaching, students, learning and ethics over the years.

My deepest condolences to his family. He will be missed.

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Claire Gorfinkel published a tribute .

Ken and I became friends at Reed College. I was a year behind him, drawn to him through folk dancing and listening to his wonderful jug band. When Ken came back from Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964, we decided to start a “Freedom School” in Portland, where we would tutor students who needed some assistance. Ken grew to love teaching; I didn’t. I don’t think our project ever really got off the ground, but we shared that sense of obligation to do our part to mend the world.
Starting in 1989, I had the good fortune to travel to Hawaii for work every year. We always arranged to at least spend a full day circumnavigating Oahu - and there were hikes and concerts, meals, shops, beaches, and generally good times. He also visited me a few times in California. I loved our conversations, about his latest gadget, the paper(s) he was writing, the ethical dilemmas he was trying to clarify … being with Ken was always fascinating, and intellectually exhausting.

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Grace published a comment .

Do you remember the name of his jug band?

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Harvey Kipnis published a comment .

I'd like to know the name of that jug band as well!
Harvey Kipnis
Ken's kid brother

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Tamara Albertini published a tribute .

Here is the link to the tribute I wrote for Ken:
https://hawaii.edu/phil/kenneth-kipnis-1943-2021-tribute-to-an-ethicist-by-professor-tamara-albertini/
Tamara

Dr. Tamara Albertini
Chair and Professor of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy
University of Hawai'i at Manoa

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Matt Wynia published a tribute .

Ken came to the AMA as a Visiting Scholar in 2001, and his agenda for the year was completely disrupted by the events of 9/11. His work on ethical responses from the medical profession to catastrophic disasters - including the potential for natural or manmade infectious disease outbreaks - has continued to resonate and influence policy until the current day. Beyond that, I'll never forget him telling me there were certain ethical promises to which everyone in health care could "raise their mug" and cheer, and that these areas of widespread agreement should be emphasized and celebrated by people in bioethics, even as we also dug into the nuances of issues where there was much less agreement. With that in mind, one area of consensus agreement in bioethics is that Ken was a special person and he will be greatly missed!

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Paula Frechen published a tribute .

I remember the first time I met Ken. A group of us, members of NE Village PDX, were at a local restaurant after taking a walk in a nearby rose garden. When I was in college I took only one Philosophy course but liked it very much, so I was excited to meet a real-life philosopher for the first time since that class. Ken was a bright light wherever he was.

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Ann Anderson published a comment .

I remember liking Ken the first time I met him when he and Leanne came to a Northeast Village Happy Hour at a local restaurant shortly after they moved into our building. We had preceded them by a few months and were eager to find new friends. I was struck by his droll wit accompanied by a wonderful twinkle in his eyes and his eagerness to raise questions in any philosophical or political discussion. I knew we had found friends.
As time went on, I came to deeply appreciate his intellectual honesty, openness, sense of fairness and integrity, commitment to high standards, and just being a good and decent guy. I will miss both his thoughtful and humorous take on the world.

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Marie published a tribute .

Ken, Leanne, Bill and I agreed late on Dec. 31, 2018 or 2019, to go to a bar down the street from our condo building for the midnight dropping of the balloons. The bar was too crowded to get in so we stood outside to watch the New Year come in via balloons at Capital Bar on Broadway.

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Peter Norton published a tribute .

Of all the people I've known there are only two I really wish I had spent more time with and Ken was one.

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Rev. Al Miles published a tribute .

Leanne, Let me first offer condolences to you and your family over Ken's death. He was a major positive force in the creation and growth of the Ethics Consultation Services Committee at The Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii; on which he served for decades. Ken's extensive knowledge of both ethical dilemmas and moral distress were essential as we reviewed the scores of cases one would come to expect from a Level 1 Trauma Center such as ours. On a personal note, after I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in 2009, Ken provided a frequent listen ear as I shared both my hopes and fears.

May God especially be with you as you continue to grieve.

Aloha,
The Rev. Al Miles, Lead Chaplain serving with Pacific Health Ministry at The Queen's Medical Center and co-Chair of Queen's Ethics Consultation Services Committee, Honolulu, Hawaii

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Maxine Robson published a tribute .

Stuart and I were fortunate to have been introduced to Ken in the 1980's. I was Ken's REALTOR and answered endless questions and showed many properties until he found just the right one for himself and Adam. He was very proud that, at the time the condo sold (many decades later), it sold for the highest price ever for a 2 bedroom in the building. Ken had a wonderful sense of humor. Stu still chuckles at Ken's description (as a young Fuller Brush man) of his technique for 'getting his foot in the door". As he described it, he held their arm in a certain way so that either they had to let him in or they would fall on their face.

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Leanne Logan published a tribute .

I hadn't planned to share any memories, of which I have SO many. But one keeps coming to me from just a few weeks ago. Ken was drifting off to a nap and I asked him if he wanted the lights on or off.
He replied, "Neither!"
I responded, "Well, there are only two choices."
To that he replied, "THERE ARE ALWAYS MORE CHOICES!"
To me, this epitomizes his approach to life. Conventional limits were just the starting point of the discussion.

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Warren Bull published a tribute .

I did not know Ken for long, but he moved from acquaintance to friend and from friend to close friend very quickly. The transitions were easy because Ken was open, honest, and unpretentious. We were in a critique group together. Ken wanted to share his journey as an ethicist who left academics to get engaged in real-life medical concerns. I deeply regret that he did not finish his book because what he wrote was fascinating. I worked as a clinical psychologist for 30 years and experienced some similar events to those he wrote about. He was open to feedback about his writing, which is quite unusual, even in a critique group. His writing was so compelling that we often ignored the writing mechanics to discuss the issues he raised. Even on the few occasions where we completely disagreed, Ken was always considerate and steadfast in his speech. I enjoyed "tussling" with him intellectually. His reviews of my work were open and helpful. Leanne and Ken enriched the lives of my wife and me. He made a truly positive difference in the world. I am proud to call him my friend.

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Leanne Logan published a comment .

Thank you. Warren. Ken continued to work on editing that book and we plan to see it through to publication.

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Daniel Fischberg published a tribute .

I was fortunate to serve with Ken on our hospital’s Ethics Committee for several years. For every case, I looked forward to Ken’s contribution, which was guaranteed to be the most thoughtful and eloquent. Ken’s intellect was tremendous and much admired by us all. Yet even more special was the kindness and thoughtfulness that characterized every interaction I ever had with Ken. We often say that people may forget what you tell them but always remember how you made them feel. Ken always made people feel listened to, respected, and cared about. And that meant incredibly much coming from one so widely respected.

On a personal note, I will share that when I had a family member in crisis and needed someone to talk to for advice, even though we did not have the closest of relations, Ken was the person I called, from 5000 miles away. I had that much trust in his heart and his head that he was the person I felt I most needed to connect with. And for that I will always be grateful.

Daniel Fischberg, MD, PhD
Professor and Chief, Division of Palliative Medicine
John A Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii

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James Sellmann published a tribute .

I studied with Ken in the 1980s. He was a dissertation mentor. I was his TA for a few semesters. I enjoyed his lecturing style so much that I used it and his notes when I began teaching. I recall that one of my most interesting and challenging courses was when Ken and Roger Ames team taught a course on comparative approaches to law. One memory I have is when Ken told me was gaining insights to my dissertation by his reading of a science fiction novel that was based on the Yi jing (Book of Changes).

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Peter Anderson published a tribute .

Ken and Leanne moved to Portland about the time my wife and I did. Ken and I enjoyed long conversations over coffee and participated together in stimulating discussions at Northeast Village PDX. He was a pleasure to know. The depth of his thinking and his often different perspectives enriched my life, I regret that our friendship existed for only a few years. I would have enjoyed it going on and on.

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Lainie Ross published a tribute .

So Sad. My condolences to Leanne, Adam, and his extended family.

Ken spent a year in Chicago in the early 2000s if I recall. He split his time between U Chicago MacLean Center and the AMA. What a pleasure to have him here and to learn from his insights.

Another area in which Ken made important contributions was in research ethics. He argued that we should not think about “vulnerable populations” but about vulnerabilities—and created a taxonomy of vulnerabilities in several works, first for the National Bioethics Advisory Commission and then in the peer reviewed literature. In recent years, I returned to this distinction and his framework. I wrote Ken how important this distinction was and adopted this concept (with lots of credit given to Ken) into my work to develop a framework with and for living organ donors.

May his memory be a blessing.


Lainie Ross, MD, PhD
University of Chicago

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Linda Axtell-Thompson published a tribute .

Ken was my very first bioethics professor at the University of Hawaii. He fired up my passion for this fascinating field, so I eventually earned MA Bioethics from MCW and DBioethics from Loyola. He was a warm, humorous, generous man and an inspiring instructor.
Aloha, Linda Axtell-Thompson

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Arindam Chakrabarti published a tribute .

With a child-like interest in the latest gadgets, Ken loved to use the word “nifty”, often in rhetorically unexpected ways. We hung out a lot since 1996 as fellow philosophers, most often disagreeing on pretty much every philosophical and university-politics question, but loving each other’s company. So I learned to use the word “nifty” by linguistic contagion. I am sure he would have found it profoundly “nifty” that when one googles his name now, one finds a photo of him taking a selfie and immediately underneath it, his 2004 paper published in The Philosophers’ Magazine titled “When Are You Dead?”.
Ken would take me and Vrinda to all sorts of music programs ranging from Balkan Music to the Harlem Gospel Choir playing in Honolulu, and of course we watched a lot of movies at the Doris Duke theater at the Art Academy. Once, just Ken-- the Medical Ethicist and I-- the Indian Metaphysician binged on 3 continuous Almodovar movies—all equally lurid and disturbing. In reciprocation, I once invited him to watch the Sufi whirling Dervishes. He whispered to me that this was “too exotic” for him and poking fun at his own cultural narrow-mindedness he confessed that his main anxiety was that those twirling dancers may fall off the platform with their eyes closed in a mystic trance!
What I learned from Ken was how extreme seriousness and extreme frivolity are perfectly compatible.

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Mark Sheldon published a tribute .

Ken and I were classmates at Brandeis. He struck me immediately as a very interesting guy with great ideas. Over the years I saw him at conferences and meetings. When he got the job at the University of Hawaii he told me that he intended to stay just a few years. Obviously that is not what happened. He loved his work there and loved the trips to the mainland. He was a wonderful person.

Mark Sheldon, PhD
Distinguished Senior Lecture Emeritus
Department of Philosophy, Medical Humanites
and Bioethics
Northwestern University

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Julie E published a tribute .

Although I only met Ken a few times, knowing Leanne loved him meant he was a pretty amazing man. I was honored to be there to celebrate your marriage. My condolences.

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Vrinda Dalmiya published a tribute .

I first encountered Ken as a stern voice over an unclear international call. But very quickly the interviewing voice of the Chair of the Philosophy Dept. became a friend. The four of us did so much together – movies, concerts, restaurants, city fireworks, hikes, a ridiculous clown show – and the annual ritual of watching the Oscars on TV at his place. Ken knew a lot about odd things – he once gave me a 30 min fact-filled talk on the different kinds of blue ink one could use in a fountain pen. He was a wonderful and dramatic story teller – my all-time favorite was an enacted tale about his experiences as a door to door salesman of encyclopedias.

Thinking of you, Ken – with fondness and sadness, but also with a chuckle.

Vrinda Dalmiya
Honolulu

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Deborah Kasman published a tribute .

So sorry to hear of Ken’s passing. I have fond memories of great conversations at Ethics summer camps and ASBH meetings.

He was so warm and inviting to all thinkers and made your style of analysis and thought welcomed and valued

I wil miss his intellect , curiosity , his warmth and his smile

May he Rest In Peace and his family have solace in his he touched so many

Deborah Kasman MD, MA
Bioethics - Kaiser Permanente SCal
Faculty at PBI - Professional Boundaries Education Inc

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Gregory E Pence published a comment .

For decades, I welcome seeing Ken at Bioethics meetings, which he seemed to love to attend.
He taught me a lot and I always enjoyed reading his work. I remember talking into the night with him in Salt Lake City after an ASBH meeting at a local house (Peggy Battin's?). I will miss him.

Greg Pence, University of Alabama at Birmingham

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Maryalice Trombley published a tribute .

Always warm and friendly to everyone and always interested in what you had to say. I took some pictures from his retirement party at UH. Sympathies to his family.

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Deb Ball published a tribute .

Ken is-was such a precious man. He deeply affirmed my contributions to our community ethics discussions and my clinical spiritual care work which meant a great deal to me. I valued his insightful perspectives and wisdom in so many palliative care discussions, particularly at our regular Palliative Care Pupu gatherings. I really appreciated his vibrant and engaging contributions in our explorations of the most ethical ways to provide health-wellbeing-spiritual care. He courageously asked brilliant questions and spoke to delicate issues in end-of-life care. I and the care I provide are enriched through having known him.

His committed presence and contributions in our gatherings over more than a dozen years and important work in the community was part of a zeitgeist of creative, outside-the-box, radical, collaborative palliative care that has shaped what palliative care as it continues to unfold today in the islands. It has been a gift for me to learn from Ken in these forums and our clinical settings that call us to live-speak-act ethically into the unknown.

Reverend Deborah M. Ball, M.A., M.Div.

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Leanne Logan published a tribute .

From Ken's cousin Audrey

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Harvey Kipnis published a tribute .

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Julia & Todd Fink published a tribute .

We met Ken through Leanne and so enjoyed the times we got together.
This Escape Room is one of my fond memories. We didn’t get out in the time allotted, but we certainly had fun and questioned everything in the room!

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Patricia Sexton published a tribute .

Loved Ken's sense of humor and his always-interesting take on any subject. Just loved him, period. A sweet, loving man.

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Thalia Arawi published a tribute .

Very sad news... Ken was a superb and humble person.. may his soul rest in peace..

Dr. Thalia Arawi, BA (Sociology), MA (Political and Moral Philosophy), PhDs (Philosophy, Bioethics)

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Rosamond Rhodes published a tribute .

I’ve missed seeing Ken at meetings. It’s very sad to learn that he is now gone. I will miss his warmth, his humor, and his sharp remarks.

I am especially fond of his article on healthcare for prisoners that he wrote for the 2nd edition of Medicine and Social Justice.


Rosamond Rhodes, Ph.D.
Professor of Medical Education

Director of Bioethics Education
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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Bob Baker published a tribute .

Everyone who knew or worked with Ken recognized that he was a voice of conscience for our field.

I began to work with Ken after Mary Faith Marshall gave her October 1998 Presidential address "Speaking Truth to Power" in which she reported that she had been terminated by the Medical College of South Carolina, where she headed their ethics program, because she gave testimony to a grand jury about the institution's treatment of opiate addicted pregnant women. The ACLU was defending her.

One of the issues that emerged from Mary Faith's presidential address was that, unlike other healthcare professions, bioethics lacked a code of ethics—a public statement of healthcare ethicists' responsibilities that would clarify to the public and to employers the nature of their moral commitments. Recognizing the need, Ken, one other bioethicist (name slips my mind), and I volunteered to help develop such a code.

Ken and I served on the initial committee and he became a driving force behind the initiative. We surveyed the field and found that bioethicists (irrespective of whether they were ASBH members) overwhelmingly supported an ethics code. Ken outlined his approach to code development in a 2005 article in AJOB (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15265160500245378) and in that same year Ken, Bob Pearlman and I issued a report to the leadership of ASBH recommending the development of an ethics code.

It took a decade for the ASBH to develop a code of ethics for healthcare ethics consultants (https://asbh.org/uploads/publications/ASBH%20Code%20of%20Ethics.pdf) but, had it not been for Ken's persistence, intellectual acumen, and commitment to our field it is unlikely that we would have a code of ethics today.

On a personal note: Working with Ken was a delight. His passion, drive, and moral commitment was inspiring. He and I often differed about how best to proceed but never on our shared belief that clinical ethics consultation was a healthcare profession, that clinical ethicists should be accountable for their actions, and that this required the ASBH to issue a public statement of healthcare ethics consultants ethical responsibilities.

In sadness
bb

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Christine Mitchell published a tribute .

Oh dear--I am so sorry. I will miss Ken Kipnis. I loved his verve. He seemed younger than his years but wise enough to be his real age.

Christine Mitchell

President, Association of Bioethics Program Directors
Executive Director, Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School

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Thaddeus Pope published a tribute .

It was a privilege and a pleasure to serve on the ASBH Board a few years ago. One of the distinct perks of that position was the opportunity to interact with Ken both professionally and socially during the time that our terms overlapped.

Thaddeus Mason Pope

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Constance Perry published a tribute .

Ken treated all with respect. He spoke up when it warranted, did his research, and wrote clearly. He had a great sense of humor and intellect. ASBH meetings aren't going to be the same. I think he was at every SHHV/ASBH conference I ever attended.

Connie

Constance Perry, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
College of Nursing and Health Professions
Drexel University

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Memorial Celebration of Ken Kipnis' Life

September 19th, 2021 at 1:00pm
Event Details & RSVP

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