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The Foundations of Bioethics Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0195057362 ISBN-10: 0195057368 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition (January 4, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195057368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195057362
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This book on bioethics offers a useful, relatively detailed discussion of the principles of autonomy, beneficence, justice; of the concepts of personhood, disease, confidentiality; and of issues such as abortion, infanticide, and the allocation of health care. Insofar as the book discusses ethical theory, it is simplistic and uninteresting; the author encumbers himself and us by viewing various things as matters of having a right rather than of doing what is right . Extensive footnotes provide an effective substitute for a bibliography. All things considered, a good overview for non-philosophers. Robert Hoffman, Philosophy Dept., York Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Engelhardt has done it again--the second edition of The Foundations of Bioethics presents a powerful and controversial challenge and alternative to major frameworks of bioethics. It is not possible to do bioethics responsibly without close attention to this important book."--James Childress, University of Virginia

"One of the most brilliant books to appear in the field of bioethics."--The New England Journal of Medicine

"This is a fascinating and intellectually provocative book and an extensive development and clarification of some of the themes of the first edition. Thoroughly recommended to anyone with a real interest in medical ethics. Those who object to the centrality of the principle of autonomy in Engelhardt's philosophy may find it easier to accept in its new guise of the principle of permission."--Raanan Gillon, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine

"We need not agree with Engelhardt's major theses nor his conclusions but we must admire the impressive breadth of his scholarship, the vigorous reasoning and original thinking. Anyone concerned with the philosophical substrata of secular bioethics must read this careful revision of Engelhardt's justly acclaimed seminal book."--Edmund Pellegrino, Georgetown University

"The second edition of Dr. Engelhardt's The Foundations of Bioethics is much more sharply focused in developing and describing the layout of postmodern secular ethics among moral strangers and moral friends. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason marked the Copernican turn in epistemiological reasoning; the second edition refined the original concept in clarity, rigorosity and vision. Engelhardt's The Foundations of Bioethics surveys the landscape of postmodern moral reasoning; the second edition marks the Copernican turn in postmodern ethical reasoning and will become the classical reader for generations to come."--Hans-Martin Sass, Ruhr-Universitat, Bochum

"Do not be deceived--this is not just another revision. This is a religiously powerful and candid reading by the author of his more philosophical arguments in the first edition of The Foundations of Bioethics. In effect he resituates the discourse of the first edition by making candid the theological presuppositions that conformed it. This is the most important book that has been written since the beginning of that strange project called bioethics. It will confound those who have thought of themselves as supporters of Engelhardt's positions in the past and even more confuse those who have thought they were his enemies."--Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University

"Engelhardt's postmodern approach to bioethics is one that will speak to those who live on the margins of society as well as what is in its ever-diminishing mainstream. His is a bioethics meant for moral strangers, not for moral friends. Since we do not agree with each other about what is good, we no longer have a moral foundation for determining what is right. Hence, we must settle for the next best thing: a procedural, secular morality, grounded in the 'principle of permissions'. Using the powers of our will and what is left of reason, we can agree to cooperate and to live with the contradiction expressed in the words: 'You have a moral right to do what I and my moral friends regard as evil.' This is the wisdom that we must bring to the increasingly diverse and plural realm of health care. Engelhardt's brillian, beautifully-written and usefully-documented book on bioethics will be discussed for decades to come. It's that good."--Rosemarie Tong, Davidson College

From reviews of the first edition: "An impressive and distinguished contribution to this difficult and controversial field. The scope of the book is wide and Englehardt maintains a high standard of argument throughout....The book is certainly challenging, and both radicals and conservatives will find parts of it uncomfortable and dangerous. Bioethics badly needs such danger, for the perils of thinking that the dilemmas of modern medicine can be navigated without risk are much greater."--The Philosophical Review

From reviews of the first edition: "Current difficulties with access to health care and the beginning of "rationed" care make it important for all physicians to review the philosophical underpinnings of their ethical stance. . . . [Englehardt's] discussion of how to approach ethical thinking is flawless" --News for Women in Psychiatry

"Superb basic text...Excellent discussion of personhood and analysis of problems."--Miriam Piven Cotler, PhD, California State University

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James L. Park on August 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
H. Tristram Engelhardt, , Jr.
The Foundations of Bioethics

(New York: Oxford University Press, 1986) p. 107, 108.

This book contains two chapters addressing the issue of personhood,
at the beginning and end of human life.
The author clearly believes that full persons should have higher status
and more rights than pre-persons or former persons.
The ability to make responsible decisions ("moral agency")
is one of the most distinctive marks of personhood.

The following two quotes are from pages 107 & 108 respectively:

"What distinguishes persons is their capacity to be self-conscious,
rational, and concerned with worthiness of blame and praise.
The possibility of such entities
grounds the possibility of the moral community.
It offers us a way of reflecting on the rightness and wrongness
of actions and the worthiness or unworthiness of actors.

On the other hand, not all humans are persons.
Not all humans are self-conscious, rational,
and able to conceive of the possibility of blaming and praising.
Fetuses, infants, the profoundly mentally retarded,
and the hopelessly comatose provide examples of nonpersons.
Such entities are members of the human species.
They do not in and of themselves have standing in the moral community.
They cannot blame or praise or be worthy of blame or praise.
They are not prime participants in the moral endeavor.
Only persons have that status."

"For this reason it is nonsensical to speak of respecting
the autonomy of fetuses, infants, or profoundly retarded adults,
who have never been rational.
There is no autonomy to affront.
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Rarely, does anyone get down to the elemental processes of human interactions. This book is one of those rare occasions. It basically negates all known ethical methods and demands respect for human rights (albeit in a un- or under-stated way).
Post-Modern Ethics has no where to go except to the process of mutual respect of individuals.
This is a difficult book to read because it cuts through all internal and external methods thus attacking one's own value system. A section on axiology would have been a plus (but not necessary.)
It's must read for the new mellenium.
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