Contributors discuss such topics as the acceptance of human finitude; the role of hospice and palliative medicine; spiritual preparation for death; and the relationship between community, and individual autonomy. They also consider special cases, including children, elderly patients with dementia, and death in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, when doctors could do little more than accompany their patients in humble solidarity.
These chapters make the case for a robust bioethics -- one that could foster both the contemplation of finitude and the cultivation of community that would be necessary for a contemporary art of dying well.
ContributorsJeffrey P. Bishop, Lisa Sowle Cahill, Daniel Callahan, Farr A. Curlin, Lydia S. Dugdale, Michelle Harrington, John Lantos, Stephen R. Latham, M. Therese Lysaught, Autumn Alcott Ridenour, Peter A. Selwyn, Daniel Sulmasy
Raphael Sassower considers two related phenomena: the positive public image of science as the citadel of truth and objectivity and the angst displayed by scientists over their indirect roles in technological horrors. Largely unexamined, these circumstances provide the opportunity for a wholesale reassessment of the social and ethical situations of science and technology. In a world in which daily developments, from the space shuttle to the superconducting supercollider, raise complex political and economic issues, this book provides a framework for assessing the cultural impact of scientific work.
Is there no way, Sassower asks, to revisit the ideals of science -- once devoted to creating a more reasonable and open society free from prejudices -- when deciding the value of technoscientific projects and policies? His work suggests ways we can both preserve the benefits of enlightenment rationality (so-called scientific objectivity) and overcome the notion of science as our culture's master narrative.
Bringing the tools of postmodern philosophy and criticism to bear on Auschwitz and Hiroshima, the most brutal and incomprehensible instances of scientific modernism, Technoscientific Angst proposes that we change our scientific and philosophical perspectives on the modern world -- that we bring them together in a novel and constructive way.
In Narrative Experiments, Gayle Ormiston and Ralph Sassower bring a refreshing perspective to the domains of inquiry we call "science" and "technology," asserting that traditional definitions (like classical idealism and materialism) fail to suggest the rich and complex cultural/linguistic interplay occurring between them. This context is not merely a background, nor is Ormiston and Sassower's just one more interdisciplinary approach to the subject. Instead, their book argues, science, technology, and the humanities developed in concert with one another, and their reciprocity obliterates all traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Ormiston and Sassower build their case by devoting a chapter to each of the four themes emerging from the etymological introduction. First, they look at the role fiction and other literary modes play in developing our attitudes toward science and technology -- how the visions of Bacon, Hobbes, Galileo, Rousseau, Mary Shelley, and Orwell evoke both anxiety and hope. Next, they examine a series of eighteenth-century "fictions" -- the Enlightenment texts of Kant, Rousseau, and Hume -- and the elevated (but ambiguous) status science and technology associated with them. The last two chapters evaluate modes of discursive authority and its dissemination -- classical and modern extralinguistic approaches; the contemporary-linguistic view espoused by Rorty, Quine, and others; and their own avowedly experimental journey through the labyrinths of cultural and linguistic usage.