Most helpful positive review
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Simply THE best introduction to medical ethics. Period.
on March 4, 2011
I've been teaching with this book for nearly 10 years, having survived several new editions and I keep coming back to it, for several reasons:
1. It's easy to read. Honestly, some textbooks (especially Philosophy) can be dry, using big words to explain big concepts that only make sense to those in the major. This book is written in everyday language, which means a lot to undergraduate students with huge reading schedules. The key terms are still introduced, but in a way that's not off-putting to undergraduates.
2. It's interesting. The cases are about real people and the real medical dilemmas they were faced with, placed in the context of history and significance for ethics. It's all relevant.
3. The tough topics are there. Pence does a great job explaining what can be difficult ideas to grasp. The case studies are examples. The ethical debates are very clearly identified.
4. It's both ethics and medicine. Some other reviews (of previous editions) suggest the ethics chapter should be gone -- no way! The field is, after all, medical ETHICS, so it would be negligent not to include the ethical theory. Most of the concepts people already understand; Pence does a good job explaining the technical words for them (like utilitarianism, deontology, etc.).
5. It really is objective. Despite protests from those who feel Pence beats up on religion -- especially regarding abortion -- the many complicated sides of these controversial issues are presented. (NOTE: It is a FACT that the Catholic Church turned away from science in response to Darwin with its policy of infallibility in the late 19th century, that there's a ban against birth control, and that the Bible defines life according to breath through the nostrils. Pence presents this information because it impacts the interpretation of the Church's position on certain issues. If philosophy can't be critical, there is no point in studying ethics at all).
This is by far the best introduction to medical ethics I've found. It's not perfect, but there's nothing better. Yet.