Alfred I. Tauber

Alfred I. Tauber is the Zoltan Kohn Professor of Medicine, Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University.

  • Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility

    Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility

    Alfred I. Tauber

    The principle of patient autonomy dominates the contemporary debate over medical ethics. In this examination of the doctor-patient relationship, physician and philosopher Alfred Tauber argues that the idea of patient autonomy—which was inspired by other rights-based movements of the 1960s—was an extrapolation from political and social philosophy that fails to ground medicine's moral philosophy. He proposes instead a reconfiguration of personal autonomy and a renewed commitment to an ethics of care. In this formulation, physician beneficence and responsibility become powerful means for supporting the autonomy and dignity of patients. Beneficence, Tauber argues, should not be confused with the medical paternalism that fueled the patient rights movement. Rather, beneficence and responsibility are moral principles that not only are compatible with patient autonomy but strengthen it. Coordinating the rights of patients with the responsibilities of their caregivers will result in a more humane and robust medicine.

    Tauber examines the historical and philosophical competition between facts (scientific objectivity) and values (patient care) in medicine. He analyzes the shifting conceptions of personhood underlying the doctor-patient relationship, offers a "topology" of autonomy, from Locke and Kant to Hume and Mill, and explores both philosophical and practical strategies for reconfiguring trust and autonomy. Framing the practicalities of the clinical encounter with moral reflections, Tauber calls for an ethical medicine in which facts and values are integrated and humane values are deliberately included in the program of care.

    • Hardcover $62.00
    • Paperback $30.00
  • Confessions of a Medicine Man

    Confessions of a Medicine Man

    An Essay in Popular Philosophy

    Alfred I. Tauber

    A physician/philosopher uses anecdotes, historical narrative, and philosophical concepts to draw a moral portrait of the doctor-patient relationship.

    "My mission is to analyze medicines ethical structure. I do so as both a physician and a philosopher. Of my two voices, it is the latter that is informed by the former.... As a physician I have sought professional solutions to the frustrations of fighting a medical system that has become increasingly hostile to my standards of care for my patients; as a philosopher I will explore here the ethical issues I believe are the root of our predicament."—from the introduction.

    In Confessions of a Medicine Man, Alfred Tauber probes the ethical structure of contemporary medicine in an argument accessible to lay readers, healthcare professionals, and ethicists alike. Through personal anecdote, historical narrative, and philosophical discussion, Tauber composes a moral portrait of the doctor-patient relationship. In a time when discussion has focused on market forces, he seeks to show how our basic conceptions of health, the body, and most fundamentally our very notion of selfhood frame our experience of illness. Arguing against an ethics based on a presumed autonomy, Tauber presents a relational ethic that must orient medical science and a voracious industry back to their primary moral responsibility: the empathetic response to the call of the ill.

    • Hardcover $30.00
    • Paperback $30.00

Contributor

  • Microbiome

    Microbiome

    Armen Avanessian, Werner Boschmann, Karen Sarkisov, and Klaus Spiess

    The microbiome and the coming micro-biopolitics.

    Over the past two decades, scientists have discussed a new scientific subject that reevaluates the human condition and requires a completely new scientific methodology—the microbiome. Thousands of different bacteria, fungi, archaea, and viruses form a microbial flora that coexist in our gut, and fulfill important functions in our intestines, mouths, and on our skin. Understanding microbiota alters and challenges our concepts of immunology, metabolism, an the relation between nutrition and mental health, and creates new shapes on pathogenesis. It even shapes our biological definition of living creatures at all levels of life, up to the largest structures created by living organisms.

    Every biological system is governed by bacteria and wherever its diversity is put in danger (for example, poor hygienic practices, the development, production, and administration of antibiotics, etc.) the consequence is an increase in diseases (including diabetes and Alzheimer's). Studying and understanding the microbiome not only sheds new light on the relation between humankind and nature but also underscores the foreign within us. We are facing a new micro-biopolitics.

    Edited in dialogue with Klaus Spiess

    Copublished with the V-A-C Foundation

    Contributors

    Augusto J. Montiel-Castro, Rina Maria González-Cervantes, Gabriela Bravo-Ruiseco, Gustavo Pacheco-López, M. N. Frissen, Scott Gilbert, P. F. de Groot, Nicolien de Clercq and Max Nieuwdorp, Jamie Lorimer, Vitor Cabral, Sway Chen, Krithivasan Sankaranarayanan, Stephanie Schnorr, Nicola Segatta, Ravi Sheth, Alfred I. Tauber, Harris Wang, Cecil Lewis Jr. and Christina Warinner

    • Paperback $19.95
  • Landscapes of Collectivity in the Life Sciences

    Landscapes of Collectivity in the Life Sciences

    Snait B. Gissis, Ehud Lamm, and Ayelet Shavit

    Broad perspective on collectivity in the life sciences, from microorganisms to human consensus, and the theoretical and empirical opportunities and challenges.

    Many researchers and scholars in the life sciences have become increasingly critical of the traditional methodological focus on the individual. This volume counters such methodological individualism by exploring recent and influential work in the life sciences that utilizes notions of collectivity, sociality, rich interactions, and emergent phenomena as essential explanatory tools to handle numerous persistent scientific questions in the life sciences. The contributors consider case studies of collectivity that range from microorganisms to human consensus, discussing theoretical and empirical challenges and the innovative methods and solutions scientists have devised.

    The contributors offer historical, philosophical, and biological perspectives on collectivity, and describe collective phenomena seen in insects, the immune system, communication, and human collectivity, with examples ranging from cooperative transport in the longhorn crazy ant to the evolution of autobiographical memory. They examine ways of explaining collectivity, including case studies and modeling approaches, and explore collectivity's explanatory power. They present a comprehensive look at a specific case of collectivity: the Holobiont notion (the idea of a multi-species collective, a host and diverse microorganisms) and the hologenome theory (which posits that the holobiont and its hologenome are a unit of adaption). The volume concludes with reflections on the work of the late physicist Eshel Ben-Jacob, pioneer in the study of collective phenomena in living systems.

    ContributorsOren Bader, John Beatty, Dinah R. Davison, Daniel Dor, Ofer Feinerman, Raghavendra Gadagkar, Scott F. Gilbert, Snait B. Gissis, Deborah M. Gordon, James Griesemer, Zachariah I. Grochau-Wright, Erik R. Hanschen, Eva Jablonka, Mohit Kumar Jolly, Anat Kolumbus, Ehud Lamm, Herbert Levine, Arnon Levy, Xue-Fei Li, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Yael Lubin, Eva Maria Luef, Ehud Meron, Richard E. Michod, Samir Okasha, Simone Pika, Joan Roughgarden, Eugene Rosenberg, Ayelet Shavit, Yael Silver, Alfred I. Tauber, Ilana Zilber-Rosenberg

    • Hardcover $60.00
  • Transformations of Lamarckism

    Transformations of Lamarckism

    From Subtle Fluids to Molecular Biology

    Snait B. Gissis and Eva Jablonka

    A reappraisal of Lamarckism—its historical impact and contemporary significance.

    In 1809—the year of Charles Darwin's birth—Jean-Baptiste Lamarck published Philosophie zoologique, the first comprehensive and systematic theory of biological evolution. The Lamarckian approach emphasizes the generation of developmental variations; Darwinism stresses selection. Lamarck's ideas were eventually eclipsed by Darwinian concepts, especially after the emergence of the Modern Synthesis in the twentieth century. The different approaches—which can be seen as complementary rather than mutually exclusive—have important implications for the kinds of questions biologists ask and for the type of research they conduct. Lamarckism has been evolving—or, in Lamarckian terminology, transforming—since Philosophie zoologique's description of biological processes mediated by "subtle fluids." Essays in this book focus on new developments in biology that make Lamarck's ideas relevant not only to modern empirical and theoretical research but also to problems in the philosophy of biology. Contributors discuss the historical transformations of Lamarckism from the 1820s to the 1940s, and the different understandings of Lamarck and Lamarckism; the Modern Synthesis and its emphasis on Mendelian genetics; theoretical and experimental research on such "Lamarckian" topics as plasticity, soft (epigenetic) inheritance, and individuality; and the importance of a developmental approach to evolution in the philosophy of biology. The book shows the advantages of a "Lamarckian" perspective on evolution. Indeed, the development-oriented approach it presents is becoming central to current evolutionary studies—as can be seen in the burgeoning field of Evo-Devo. Transformations of Lamarckism makes a unique contribution to this research.

    • Hardcover $55.00
    • Paperback $50.00
  • Chimeras and Consciousness

    Chimeras and Consciousness

    Evolution of the Sensory Self

    Lynn Margulis, Celeste A. Asikainen, and Wolfgang E. Krumbein

    Scientists elucidate the astounding collective sensory capacity of Earth and its evolution through time.

    Chimeras and Consciousness begins the inquiry into the evolution of the collective sensitivities of life. Scientist-scholars from a range of fields—including biochemistry, cell biology, history of science, family therapy, genetics, microbial ecology, and primatology—trace the emergence and evolution of consciousness. Complex behaviors and the social imperatives of bacteria and other life forms during 3,000 million years of Earth history gave rise to mammalian cognition. Awareness and sensation led to astounding activities; millions of species incessantly interacted to form our planet's complex conscious system. Our planetmates, all of them conscious to some degree, were joined only recently by us, the aggressive modern humans.

    From social bacteria to urban citizens, all living beings participate in community life. Nested inside families within communities inside ecosystems, each metabolizes, takes in matter, expends energy, and excretes. Each of the members of our own and other species, in groups with incessantly shifting alliances, receives and processes information. Mergers of radically different life forms with myriad purposes—the "chimeras" of the title—underlie dramatic metamorphosis and other positive evolutionary change. Since early bacteria avoided, produced, and eventually used oxygen, Earth's sensory systems have expanded and complexified. The provocative essays in this book, going far beyond science but undergirded by the finest science, serve to put sensitive, sensible life in its cosmic context.

    • Hardcover $12.75
    • Paperback $45.00