The Foundations of Bioethics

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9780195057362: The Foundations of Bioethics

This new, thoroughly recast Second Edition has been acclaimed as "the most important book written since the beginning of that strange project called bioethics" (Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University). Its philosophical exploration of the foundations of secular bioethics has been substantially expanded. The book challenges the values of much of contemporary bioethics and health care policy by confronting their failure to secure the moral norms they seek to apply. The nature of health and disease, the definition of death, the morality of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, germline genetic engineering, triage decisions and distributive justice in health care are all addressed within an integrated reconsideration of bioethics as a whole. New material has been added regarding social justice, health care reform and environmental ethics. The very possibility and meaning of a secular bioethics are re-explored.

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About the Author:

H. Tristram Engelhardt is at Baylor College of Medicine.


"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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