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Causing Death and Saving Lives: The Moral Problems of Abortion, Infanticide, Suicide, Euthanasia, Capital Punishment, War, and Other Life-or-Death Choices Paperback – July 26, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (July 26, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140134794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140134797
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,162,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jonathan Glover is Professor of Ethics and Director of the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King's College, London.

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Chiranjeeb Buragohain on June 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is concerned with practical ethics, a very old branch of philosophy with a long history all the way from the Greeks. For the Greeks, philosophy was not an academic affair ---politics and ethics dealt with real problems of the day. That trend withered as time went on. This book applies tools of philosophy to real life problems such as abortion, infanticide, war, and suicide. The most interesting aspect of the book is that it does not push any particular point of view. Instead it takes each problem and describes various attempts to deal with it. For example abortion: some people believe abortion is wrong because the foetus has life and life is sacred, others believe that the foetus's right can be overridden by the right for the mother to make a choice about her own life. Neither position is completely defensible logically and both have their slippery points. Glover takes each of these viewpoints and analyzes its pros and cons. It is up to the reader to understand these arguments and make a judgement about where they stand. This is the best book to understand controversial issues such as infanticide, capital punishment and abortion without getting caught up in false rhetoric. Once you read this book, you will see these issues differently; with less surety and more humility.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. H. J. Simmons on April 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a classic work of applied ethics. Jonathan Glover, one of the leaders in the field, casts a calm and rational light on some of the key moral issues concerning loss of life, such as abortion, capital punishemnt and warfare. His arguments are always balanced and fair, as well as penetrating. They are also free of unnecessary philosophical technicality. Strongly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition
In Causing Deaths and Saving Lives Jonathan Glover offers a broadly utilitarian analysis of killing. It is, however, not purely utilitarian; Glover makes room for respecting the autonomy of those who wish to go on living even if we cannot determine what it is that makes their lives worth living (perhaps, though, this grounded in some kind of rule utilitarianism). Indeed, Glover thinks that the wrongness of killing (considered apart from its side-effects on others) is explained by either the overriding of another’s autonomy or by reducing the total amount of worthwhile life that would otherwise exist if no life-thwarting action were taken. While this classic volume is easy to read, non-technical, honest, and fair, the foundational assumptions seem to me to be drastically flawed.

Consider his definition of death, which he defines as the irreversible loss of consciousness. This, he thinks avoids a problem posed by a thought experiment: imagine a man’s heart stops and a doctor is poised to revive him fully expecting to get his heart going again. But the man’s heir plunges a knife into his chest before the doctor can do anything. Does the heir violate a corpse or take the life of an innocent human being? He violates a corpse only if the death is defined by the mere cessation of pulmonary circulation. But that is not a plausible definition of death, because it leaves out the condition of irreversibility. Suppose the heir doesn’t interfere and the doctor gets the man’s heart going again, but unfortunately the man never regains consciousness. After the doctor determines that the man’s consciousness has been irreversibly lost, the man’s heir plunges the knife into the man’s chest. Does he violate a corpse or kill an innocent human being?
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