Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics

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Encounter Books, Jan 1, 2004 - Medical - 313 pages
4 Reviews
At the onset of "Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity," Leon Kass gives us a status report on where we stand today: "Human nature itself lies on the operating table, ready for alteration, for eugenic and psychic 'enhancement, ' for wholesale redesign. In leading laboratories, academic and industrial, new creators are confidently amassing their powers and quietly honing their skills, while on the street their evangelists are zealously prophesying a posthuman future. For anyone who cares about preserving our humanity, the time has come for paying attention." Trained as a medical doctor and biochemist, Dr. Kass has become one of our most provocative thinkers on bioethical issues. Now, in this brave and searching book, he also establishes himself as a prophetic voice summoning us to think deeply about the new biomedical technologies threatening to take us back to the future envisioned by Aldous Huxley in "Brave New World." As in Huxley's dystopia, where life has been smoothed out by genetic manipulation, psychoactive drugs and high tech amusement, our own accelerating efforts to master reproduction and genetic endowment, to retard aging, and to conquer illness, imperfection, and death itself are animated by our most humane and progressive aspirations. But we are walking too quickly down the road to physical and psychological utopia, Kass believes, without pausing to assess the potential damage to our humanity from this brave new biology. In a series of meditations on cloning, embryo research, the human genome project, the sale of organs, and the assault on mortality itself, Kass evaluates the ongoing effort to break down the natural boundaries given us and to remake the human body into an instrument of our will. What does it mean to treat nascent human life as raw material to be exploited? What does it mean to blur the line between procreation and manufacture? What are the proper limits to this project for the remaking of human nature? These are the questions we should be asking to prevent runaway scientism with its utopian longings from reshaping humankind in the image of our own choosing. Kass believes that technology has done and will continue to do wonders for our health and longevity and that we have much to be thankful for. But there is more at stake in the biological revolution that saving life and avoiding death. We must also strive to protect the ideas and practices that give us dignity and keep us human. "Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity" challenges us to confront the posthuman future that may await us by thinking deeply about the life and death issues we face today.
  

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Review: Life Liberty & the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics

User Review  - The American Conservative - Goodreads

'There is so much that Dr. Kass covers in this book—including many wonderful and illuminating insights—that this review simply cannot do it justice. For example, his discussion of the permanent ... Read full review

Review: Life Liberty & the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics

User Review  - Frank - Goodreads

LRK speaking for himself: Fewer people yet worried about the effects on our .. society of coming to look upon nascent human life as a natural resource to be mined, exploited, commodified... We are ... Read full review

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Contents

Introduction
1
Nature and Purposes of Technologyand Ethics
27
CHAPTER ONE The Problem of Technology and Liberal Democracy
29
Wheres the Action?
55
Ethical Challenges from Biotechnology
77
Genetics and the Beginning of Life
79
CHAPTER THREE The Meaning of Lifein the Laboratory
81
CHAPTER FOUR The Age of Genetic Technology Arrives
119
Staying Human at the End of Life
199
CHAPTER SEVEN Is There a Right to Die?
201
CHAPTER EIGHT Death with Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
231
Why Not Immortality?
257
Nature and Purposes of Biology
275
CHAPTER TEN The Permanent Limitations of Biology
277
Acknowledgments
299
Notes
301

CHAPTER FIVE Cloning and the Posthuman Future
141
CHAPTER SIX Organs for Sale? Propriety Property and the Price of Progress
177

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About the author (2004)

Leon R. Kass is Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago.

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