Bioethics for Beginners: 60 Cases and Cautions from the Moral Frontier of Healthcare

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How far is too far? 60 cases illustrating modern bioethical dilemmas

Bioethics for Beginners maps the giant dilemmas posed by new technologies and medical choices, using 60 cases taken from our headlines, and from the worlds of medicine and science. This eminently readable book takes it one case at a time, shedding light on the social, economic and legal side of 21st century medicine while giving the reader an informed basis on which to answer personal, practical questions. Unlocking the debate behind the headlines, this book combines clear thinking with the very latest in science and medicine, enabling readers to decide for themselves exactly what the scientific future should hold.

 

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About the author

Dr. Glenn McGee is President of the Division of Research Ethics at Celltex Therapeutics, a stem cell research company in Houston, Texas. He held two successive endowed chairs in bioethics after serving for a decade as professor at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medical Ethics. He is the founding editor of The American Journal of Bioethics and a leading authority on ethical issues in science and medicine. McGee has been a columnist for The Scientist, New York Times News Service, and MSNBC, and a frequent guest and commentator for National Public Radio, CNN, Fox, CBS, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Oprah, among others. McGee's books include The Perfect Baby (2nd edn., 2000), The Human Cloning Debate (with A. Caplan, 4th edn., 2004), and the best-selling Beyond Genetics: The User's Guide to DNA (2004). In addition, he has authored hundreds of scholarly papers about ethical, legal, and social issues in medicine.

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Additional Information

Publisher
John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Mar 14, 2012
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9781118254639
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Language
English
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Genres
Medical / Ethics
Philosophy / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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From the era of slavery to the present day, the first full history of black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment.

Medical Apartheid is the first and only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans. Starting with the earliest encounters between black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, it details the ways both slaves and freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments conducted without their knowledge—a tradition that continues today within some black populations. It reveals how blacks have historically been prey to grave-robbing as well as unauthorized autopsies and dissections. Moving into the twentieth century, it shows how the pseudoscience of eugenics and social Darwinism was used to justify experimental exploitation and shoddy medical treatment of blacks, and the view that they were biologically inferior, oversexed, and unfit for adult responsibilities. Shocking new details about the government’s notorious Tuskegee experiment are revealed, as are similar, less-well-known medical atrocities conducted by the government, the armed forces, prisons, and private institutions.

The product of years of prodigious research into medical journals and experimental reports long undisturbed, Medical Apartheid reveals the hidden underbelly of scientific research and makes possible, for the first time, an understanding of the roots of the African American health deficit. At last, it provides the fullest possible context for comprehending the behavioral fallout that has caused black Americans to view researchers—and indeed the whole medical establishment—with such deep distrust. No one concerned with issues of public health and racial justice can afford not to read Medical Apartheid, a masterful book that will stir up both controversy and long-needed debate.
William James and John Dewey insisted that pragmatic philosophy finds meaning in its struggle to deal with emergent social problems. Ironically, few have attempted to use pragmatism to articulate methods for ameliorating social difficulties. This dissertation attempts to do just that by putting James' and Dewey's philosophy to work on the moral and scientific problems associated with genetic engineering and the Human Genome Project. The intention is to demonstrate the usefulness of a pragmatic approach to applied ethics and philosophy of biology. The work of proponents and critics of genetic engineering is examined, including LeRoy Hood, Hans Jonas, Leon Kass, Robert Nozick, Jeremy Rifkin, Robyn Rowland, and Paul Ramsey. It is concluded that excessive optimism and pessimism about genetic engineering rests primarily on two errors. The first, basic to the Genome Project, is that organisms are essentially determined by their genes, and that the expression of genes is identical across human populations. I draw both on Richard Lewontin and on Dewey's Logic: The Theory of Inquiry to argue that the formation of human natures is instead the result of a fluid and interpenetrative relationship between hereditary information and varying environmental conditions. Organisms express DNA in different ways under different circumstances, and DNA itself is modified by exposure to mutagens. The second error prevalent in the literature is the belief that genetic engineering is uniquely problematic, requiring a new kind of ethics. To counter the received view, I detail numerous cases in the history of biology and philosophy in which humans have faced moral choices similar to those present in the new genetics. In addition, I resituate new reproductive decisions in the context of everyday problems faced by parents in society, arguing that the hopes and choices of parents provide a matrix within which genetic decisions can be made. I caution against the expansion of genetic diagnosis, and detail some of the greatest real dangers present in positive genetic engineering. Finally, I suggest pragmatic alternatives to positive genetic engineering, including education and health care reform.
Listen to a short interview with Michael Sandel Host: Chris Gondek - Producer: Heron & Crane Breakthroughs in genetics present us with a promise and a predicament. The promise is that we will soon be able to treat and prevent a host of debilitating diseases. The predicament is that our newfound genetic knowledge may enable us to manipulate our nature--to enhance our genetic traits and those of our children. Although most people find at least some forms of genetic engineering disquieting, it is not easy to articulate why. What is wrong with re-engineering our nature? The Case against Perfection explores these and other moral quandaries connected with the quest to perfect ourselves and our children. Michael Sandel argues that the pursuit of perfection is flawed for reasons that go beyond safety and fairness. The drive to enhance human nature through genetic technologies is objectionable because it represents a bid for mastery and dominion that fails to appreciate the gifted character of human powers and achievements. Carrying us beyond familiar terms of political discourse, this book contends that the genetic revolution will change the way philosophers discuss ethics and will force spiritual questions back onto the political agenda. In order to grapple with the ethics of enhancement, we need to confront questions largely lost from view in the modern world. Since these questions verge on theology, modern philosophers and political theorists tend to shrink from them. But our new powers of biotechnology make these questions unavoidable. Addressing them is the task of this book, by one of America's preeminent moral and political thinkers.
In this heartfelt memoir from one of the youngest recipients of the transorbital lobotamy, Howard Dully shares the story of a painfully dysfunctional childhood, a misspent youth, his struggle to claim the life that was taken from him, and his redemption.

At twelve, Howard Dully was guilty of the same crimes as other boys his age: he was moody and messy, rambunctious with his brothers, contrary just to prove a point, and perpetually at odds with his parents. Yet somehow, this normal boy became one of the youngest people on whom Dr. Walter Freeman performed his barbaric transorbital—or ice pick—lobotomy.

Abandoned by his family within a year of the surgery, Howard spent his teen years in mental institutions, his twenties in jail, and his thirties in a bottle. It wasn’t until he was in his forties that Howard began to pull his life together. But even as he began to live the “normal” life he had been denied, Howard struggled with one question: Why?

There were only three people who would know the truth: Freeman, the man who performed the procedure; Lou, his cold and demanding stepmother who brought Howard to the doctor’s attention; and his father, Rodney. Of the three, only Rodney, the man who hadn’t intervened on his son’s behalf, was still living. Time was running out. Stable and happy for the first time in decades, Howard began to search for answers.

Through his research, Howard met other lobotomy patients and their families, talked with one of Freeman’s sons about his father’s controversial life’s work, and confronted Rodney about his complicity. And, in the archive where the doctor’s files are stored, he finally came face to face with the truth.

Revealing what happened to a child no one—not his father, not the medical community, not the state—was willing to protect, My Lobotomy exposes a shameful chapter in the history of the treatment of mental illness. Yet, ultimately, this is a powerful and moving chronicle of the life of one man.

William James and John Dewey insisted that pragmatic philosophy finds meaning in its struggle to deal with emergent social problems. Ironically, few have attempted to use pragmatism to articulate methods for ameliorating social difficulties. This dissertation attempts to do just that by putting James' and Dewey's philosophy to work on the moral and scientific problems associated with genetic engineering and the Human Genome Project. The intention is to demonstrate the usefulness of a pragmatic approach to applied ethics and philosophy of biology. The work of proponents and critics of genetic engineering is examined, including LeRoy Hood, Hans Jonas, Leon Kass, Robert Nozick, Jeremy Rifkin, Robyn Rowland, and Paul Ramsey. It is concluded that excessive optimism and pessimism about genetic engineering rests primarily on two errors. The first, basic to the Genome Project, is that organisms are essentially determined by their genes, and that the expression of genes is identical across human populations. I draw both on Richard Lewontin and on Dewey's Logic: The Theory of Inquiry to argue that the formation of human natures is instead the result of a fluid and interpenetrative relationship between hereditary information and varying environmental conditions. Organisms express DNA in different ways under different circumstances, and DNA itself is modified by exposure to mutagens. The second error prevalent in the literature is the belief that genetic engineering is uniquely problematic, requiring a new kind of ethics. To counter the received view, I detail numerous cases in the history of biology and philosophy in which humans have faced moral choices similar to those present in the new genetics. In addition, I resituate new reproductive decisions in the context of everyday problems faced by parents in society, arguing that the hopes and choices of parents provide a matrix within which genetic decisions can be made. I caution against the expansion of genetic diagnosis, and detail some of the greatest real dangers present in positive genetic engineering. Finally, I suggest pragmatic alternatives to positive genetic engineering, including education and health care reform.
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