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Life Liberty & the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics Hardcover – October 1, 2002
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Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From The New England Journal of Medicine
Copyright © 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved. The New England Journal of Medicine is a registered trademark of the MMS.
Top Customer Reviews
One person who has done so is biologist and philosopher Leon Kass of the University of Chicago. He has spend a lifetime thinking about, and writing on, the new reproductive technologies and the challenges they present. And he has done so always with a view to the implications for human dignity and freedom. This volume, which includes articles which have appeared elsewhere, contains of wealth of information and ethical reflection on the new technologies.
All the major issues are covered here: cloning and stem cell research, IVF and assisted reproductive technologies, the new genetics, euthanasia and end of life decisions, and other recent developments in biotechnology.
Also carefully discussed are the hard questions: What is the moral status of the human embryo? Should there be limits to where we are heading in biology and technology? Are there areas of mystery in life that science should simply leave alone? Should autonomy, and the modern concept of human rights, trump other social and community concerns? What is the nature of medicine and what are its goals? These and other important ethical concerns are all given wise and careful consideration.
Kass examines the relationship between liberal democracies and the new technologies, for example, offering incisive and cautious reflection. He notes how democracies help create a climate which makes possible the growth of science and technology.Read more ›
Dr. Kass is an MD by training. He then went on to become a Professor at the U of Chicago with the Department of Social Thought (not a lecturer). While at the U of C, I never once saw him "prancing around," though he did once have a book signing - which seems normal for people who do things like, say, write books. His views would be considered by most to be conservative and thus "right-wing" since to people such as Durfee, the two are exactly the same. His views are thoughtful, though, and should be considered by anyone with an open mind. I imagine Dr. Kass has had to discuss his views with patients who suffer from neurologic diseases and doubt that he has any difficulty doing so. As a pathologist who sees all the horrible cases a hospital has while interacting with many scientists, I don't find it difficult to tell people certain treatments are morally wrong, and I have no where near the intellectual fortitude of Dr. Kass. Finally, I doubt if Dr. Kass works any less hard than Mr. Durfee's scientists who are "working overtime" and "toiling hours away." Mr. Durfee is either a scientist with an over-inflated idea of himself or an idealogue who has no idea how hard or why most scientists work. Mr. Durfee's biggest complaint is that the book has somehow insulted him. He has obviously not read it and instead insults anyone who might question the use of the sick and dying to justify all methods of scientific research.
Like his previous books, this book is timely and well-written. It is accessible to most people (who actually take the time to read it). It provides cogent arguments against some methods that many have come to agree with for the sake of the sick. It should be read by anyone who believes that the means are not always justified by the end and who is open to intellectual argument.
About half of this book deals with abstract, and half, concrete, issues. His abstract sections I was almost in total agreement with. Ethical philosophy, he writes, long ago lost track of how to deal with issues rather than theories, and real peoople rather than 'rational man' constructs. Minutia is argued on a quest to develop a consistent theory of the human right and good. BUT NO SUCH THEORY NEED TO BE CREATED! We are dealing with people who make most decisions on a hearty combination of feeling (not amenable to intellectualization) and rational thought. This is where Kass comes from.
Add to this that biology has gone on so well with the reductionist program that even it has started to lose track of how to deal with the whole person. Like wantling to understand a person-in-full by studying the small minutia of their lives seperately, event-by-event; you won't get the feel of the whole person that way; she must be studied as a whole person. Biology, by breaking us down to the smallest constituent parts, don't explain us, so much as break us down to the type of bite-sized chunks they find helpful in THEIR studies.
So Kass starts from the philosophy of the whole person. It is here that I feel he uses this more as an excuse to be inarticulate than a tool to REALLY examine the issue.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Leon Kass in Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity weaves a web of issues involving bioethics. Kass is a scientist who is doing ethics rather than as an ethicist who does... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jake R Thibault
This book by Leon Kass is a definite eye-opener. Provocative. Makes you think about the world events in different ways. Still reading it but like what I have read so far. Read morePublished on May 30, 2013 by n a haas
Admirable in its scope, Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity is an accessible, thought provoking text which is bound to hold any readers interest; Luddite or... Read morePublished on January 20, 2007 by John W. Braught
Life and dignity of it concern this author. As well, science and its advancement concern him greatly. What this book concerns itself with are the intersection of the two. Read morePublished on May 4, 2006 by rodboomboom
Sometimes unfortunate sequence of events unfolds where things reach a boiling point and there are no obvious winners such that hearts end up being deeply wounded on both sides of... Read morePublished on April 1, 2005 by Reviewer
Moral questions regarding sanctity of life are sometimes larger than life itself. The debatable question is how to define life itself. Read morePublished on March 31, 2005 by Yet another reviewer
There are so many publishing errors in the first paperback edition (2004) of Leon Kass's book that it is almost unreadable. Read morePublished on March 20, 2005 by M. Horowitz
If your someone who believes there are simplistic,easy rational answers to lifes deeper problems and that experts should be the ones to decide for the rest of society what those... Read morePublished on December 19, 2004 by D. Becker
Leon Kass is a wise and humane thinker. As a physician and as a moral philosopher he is uniquely qualified to deal with the issues being raised by the latest biotechnological... Read morePublished on November 3, 2004 by Shalom Freedman