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Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution Hardcover – January 1, 2005


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Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution + Ethical Issues in Scientific Research: An Anthology (Garland Studies in Applied Ethics, Vol 2) + The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; 1ST edition (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591022274
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591022275
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...Bailey's mastery of the arguments, and his roster of the best people to talk to, are second to none." -- Matt Ridley, author of Genome, Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human and The Red Queen: Sex and Evolution of Human Nature.

"...neither minces words nor shrinks from a good rumble,...that is what makes Liberation Biology so engaging and powerful." -- Greg Stock, author of Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future.

"...provides the closely reasoned analysis that,...ought to guide public policy with respect to biotechnology an bioengineering." -- Arthur Caplan, The Emanuel and Robert Hart Professor of Bioethics, Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Director, Center for Bioethics University of Pennsylvania

About the Author

Ronald Bailey (Charlottesville, VA) is the science correspondent for Reason magazine, a former television producer, and the author of Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths and Eco-Scam: The False Prophets of the Apocalypse. His articles and reviews have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, National Review, Forbes, and many other publications.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Larry Arnhart on September 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a clear and vigorous statement of the libertarian position on biotechnology. Bailey argues for "liberation biology" as "the earthly quest to overcome the physical and mental limitations imposed on us by nature, enabling us to flourish as never before."

Bailey insists that the technological manipulation of nature to satisfy human desires has been part of human life at least since the development of civilization based on agriculture. Using biotechnology to enhance human nature--to promote our physical and mental health and to extend our life span--is a continuation of this ancient human effort to conquer nature by articial means.

Although he recognizes the need for some legal regulation to secure the safety and efficacy of biotech products and to protect against force and fraud, Bailey prefers to leave adults free to decide for themselves (and their children) whether to employ biotechnology to enhance life. People will make mistakes. But they will learn by trial and error what uses of biotech are desirable and what not. Some people will decide to avoid such biotech advancements--following in the tradition of the Amish and other groups that choose to restrict their reliance on technology.

In arguing for this libertarian position, Bailey attacks both the bioconservatives (such as Francis Fukuyama and Leon Kass) and the Leftist bioluddites (such as Jeremy Rifkin and Bill McKibben).

I find Bailey's reasoning generally persuasive, although I think that at some points he exaggerates the power of biotech for changing human nature. He appeals to the natural human desires as the moral motivation for biotech--for example, the natural desire of parents to care for the health and happiness of their children.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Akachei on April 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It seems that everyone agrees biotechnology will have a profound effect on our species' future; where they disagree is how much of a good thing this is. "Liberation Biology" is written by Ronald Bailey, who takes an essentially Transhumanist position on this; that the options given to us by biotechnology will give us longer, happier, healthier lives.

Bailey is a writer for Reason magazine and a libertarian, so it's choice and freedom that drives his moral arguments. I have a hard time disagreeing with him when it comes to the blatantly paternalistic arguments that he deals with from biotechnology critics like Fukuyama and McKibben. (McKibben's arguments that genetic selection will turn kids into products and not people are particularly awful, although this may be in how Bailey presents them I suppose). The critics can romanticize suffering, death, and ignorance all they want, but I'd rather improve my chances of choosing where and how I die.

Bailey has more trouble in other areas - although he very effectively deals with concerns over GM food safety, as a libertarian he's far too inclined to believe that corporations won't misbehave when they get a good deal of control (as in the case of biotech crops - they've obviously helped, but farmers being dependent on one or two companies for their food supply unsettles me).

The book's biggest issue is the format, however. This is adapted from web essays, and it shows - the topics are disjointed, and the chapters are an odd mess of a tour of current technology and batches of moral arguments.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Natasha Vita-More on September 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ronald Bailey presents both a sensible investigation into human enhancement technologies and an inviting discourse that is better written and more thoroughly researched than most books on the same topic. Bailey does not skirt issues and does not cut and paste information. If you want knowledge that is pertinent and from a voice of logic - read this book!
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By cliona on January 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I truly enjoyed this book. My biology professor suggested it, and I was not disappointed. Anyone interested in the history of this field, and the major players will enjoy reading this.
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