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A Life in Bioethics

Daniel Callahan helped invent the field of bioethics more than forty years ago when he decided to use his training in philosophy to grapple with ethical problems in biology and medicine. Disenchanted with academic philosophy because of its analytical bent and distance from the concerns of real life, Callahan found the ethical issues raised by the rapid medical advances of the 1960s—which included the birth control pill, heart transplants, and new capacities to keep very sick people alive—to be philosophical questions with immediate real-world relevance.

Parents routinely turn to prenatal testing to screen for genetic or chromosomal disorders or to learn their child’s sex. What if they could use similar prenatal interventions to learn (or change) their child’s sexual orientation? Bioethicists have debated the moral implications of this still-hypothetical possibility for several decades. Some commentators fear that any scientific efforts to understand the origins of homosexuality could mean the end of gay and lesbian people, if parents shy away from having homosexual children.

Exploring the Controversy

An estimated 100 million nonhuman vertebrates worldwide--including primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, birds, rats, and mice--are bred, captured, or otherwise acquired every year for research purposes. Much of this research is seriously detrimental to the welfare of these animals, causing pain, distress, injury, or death. This book explores the ethical controversies that have arisen over animal research, examining closely the complex scientific, philosophical, moral, and legal issues involved.

Science, Policy, and Politics

Bioethics has become increasingly politicized over the past decade. Conservative voices dominated the debate at first, but the recent resurgence of progressivism and the application of its fundamental values (social justice, critical optimism, practical problem solving) to bioethical issues have helped correct this ideological imbalance. Progress in Bioethics is the first book to debate the meaning of progressive bioethics and to offer perspectives on the topic both from bioethicists who consider themselves progressive and from bioethicists who do not.

Bioconstitutionalism in the Genetic Age
Edited by Sheila Jasanoff

Legal texts have been with us since the dawn of human history. Beginning in 1953, life too became textual. The discovery of the structure of DNA made it possible to represent the basic matter of life with permutations and combinations of four letters of the alphabet, A, T, C, and G. Since then, the biological and legal conceptions of life have been in constant, mutually constitutive interplay--the former focusing on life’s definition, the latter on life’s entitlements.

Autonomy through Psychotherapy

One in six people worldwide will experience depression over the course of a lifetime. Many who seek relief through the healthcare system are treated with antidepressant medication; in the United States, nearly 170 million prescriptions for antidepressants were written in 2005, resulting in more than $12 billion in sales. And yet despite the dominance of antidepressants in the marketplace and the consulting room, another treatment for depression has proven equally effective: psychotherapy--in particular, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).

An Institutional Compromise

Physicians in the United States who refuse to perform a variety of legally permissible medical services because of their own moral objections are often protected by "conscience clauses." These laws, on the books in nearly every state since the legalization of abortion by Roe v. Wade, shield physicians and other health professionals from such potential consequences of refusal as liability and dismissal.

An Introduction with Readings
Edited by Martha J. Farah

Neuroscience increasingly allows us to explain, predict, and even control aspects of human behavior. The ethical issues that arise from these developments extend beyond the boundaries of conventional bioethics into philosophy of mind, psychology, theology, public policy, and the law. This broader set of concerns is the subject matter of neuroethics.

Improving Treatment and Understanding of the Mind-Brain

Today the measurable health burden of neurological and mental health disorders matches or even surpasses any other cluster of health conditions. At the same time, the clinical applications of recent advances in neuroscience are hardly straightforward.

Bridging the Science/Humanism Divide

Psychiatry today is torn by opposing sensibilities. Is it primarily a science of brain functioning or primarily an art of understanding the human mind in its social and cultural context? Competing conceptions of mental illness as amenable to scientific explanation or as deeply complex and beyond the reach of empirical study have left the field conceptually divided between science and humanism. In Healing Psychiatry David Brendel takes a novel approach to this stubborn problem.

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