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Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics Hardcover – November 5, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0521882484 ISBN-10: 0521882486 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (November 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521882486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521882484
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,780,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Robert P. George... is this country's most influential conservative Christian thinker."
-David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times

"This new book by Lee and George promises to be a book of singular importance and standing-a book whose arguments would have to be addressed by anyone seriously entering the discussions in this field. Lee and George address the most contentious issues in our politics-- euthanasia, abortion, hedonism, same-sex marriage, homosexuality-- yet they move with scrupulous fairness to give an accurate account of arguments 'on the other side,' and meet those arguments directly and fully."
Hadley Arkes, Amherst College

"Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics is a rigorous, bold defense of the biological, material unity and value of persons. Lee and George vigorously challenge competing accounts in philosophy of mind and personal identity, and then employ their unified theory of human nature to confront contemporary treatments of reproduction, sexual ethics, and other matters of practical moral concern. This book defends some controversial, 'conservative' values with systematic, clear arguments; it deserves a wide readership."
Charles Taliaferro, St. Olaf's College

"The greatest interest lies in the detail of the argument and the way in which it illuminates the familiar while also producing unexpected insights and leading to a noble and convincing conception of human beings as at once living animals, intellectual subjects, and moral and spiritual beings...it will aid the much needed challenge to prevailing orthodoxies"
-First Things

Book Description

Profoundly important ethical and political controversies turn on the question of whether biological life is an essential aspect of a human person, or only an extrinsic instrument. Lee and George argue that human beings are physical, animal organisms - albeit essentially rational and free - and examine the implications of this understanding of human beings for some of the most controversial issues in contemporary ethics and politics.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By E. C. Brugger on May 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Lee and George have set forth a sophisticated refutation of the philosophical idea called "body-self dualism". At the heart of this philosophy is the view that humans persons are not deserving of moral respect in virtue of being whole, living, bodily human organisms, but in virtue of some quality which they develop over time, usually consciousness. It follows that human persons are something other than their bodies (not more than their bodies, but other than their bodies), that consciousness is personal but living bodies without consciousness are subpersonal. It further follows that those who are not yet conscious (e.g., embryos and fetuses), and those who have irretrievably lost consciousness (e.g., those in irreversible commas) are not persons and therefore may be treated instrumentally and even killed for the good of others. This reasoning underlies justifications for euthanasia, abortion and embryo destructive experimentation.
Lee and George set forth a basic argument in defense of the view that bodily (biological) life is an essential and intrinsic aspect of persons. They entertain extensive objections against this view. And then they put the view to work in relation to several contemporary controversial moral issues: hedonism and hedonistic drug taking, abortion, euthanasia and issues in sexual ethics.
The basic argument goes like this: sensation is a bodily act of a living being; therefore the agent that senses is a bodily entity, an animal; but in humans, the agent who senses also reasons and has self-awareness; therefore the agent who reasons and has self-awareness is a bodily entity, not a spiritual entity making use of the body as an extrinsic instrument.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Gregory on June 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
An interesting and valuable book, at least for those who consider solitary masturbation (or, of course, gay sex) to be a slippery slope towards promiscuity, incest, bestiality, pedophilia, etc....
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Stone on August 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I agree with the goal of the authors - to provide a solid framework for contemporary ethics and politics - this work fails to present a good argument. The premises advanced do not stand up to either logic or research. The authors want so badly to support their ethical argument they are willing to sacrifice sound theology, sound philosophy, and evidence. As I believe in their cause, I wish they would withdraw this work and take a different approach based on a better foundation.
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6 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Gelasius on April 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If one believes as a matter of Faith in the gift of creation and the ownership of man by God his creator, this secularized version of faith is an adequate, though often obtusely worded, defense of that which the beauty of faith better expresses. Faith, however, disguised as philosophy is unpersuasive as the claimed philosophy despite its ornate phrasing -- which seems affected at times -- begs all of its essential questions including what flows from the obvious subordination of body to consciousness even in adults (compare, for example, the respect given quadraplegics and the manner of treatment of an equally unresponsive body of a deceased person), the book has even less explanatory power vis a vis embryos. The difficulty is Lee & George are the supposed (Catholic) philosophical foundation in reason for an entire edifice of harsh (premature) judgment and closed-minded politics that today plays out in ways that ultimately defeat the love of the creation story so much needed to be revived.
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