Against Bioethics

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Overview

Governments, health professionals, patients, research institutions, and research subjects look to bioethicists for guidance in making important decisions about medical treatment and research. And yet, argues Jonathan Baron in Against Bioethics, applied bioethics lacks the authority of a coherent guiding theory and is based largely on intuitive judgments. Baron proposes an alternative, arguing that bioethics could have a coherent theory based on utilitarianism and decision analysis. Like economics, utilitarian decision analysis makes predictions of expected good in complex situations, using data when possible, and focusing human judgment on the issues relevant to consequences. With such a guiding theory, bioethics would never yield decisions that clearly go against the expected good of those involved, as some do now.

Baron discusses issues in bioethics that can be illuminated by such analysis, including enhancements" to nature in the form of genetics, drugs, and mind control; reproduction; death and end-of-life issues, including advance directives, euthanasia, and organ donation; coercion and consent; and drug research. Although Baron opposes many current practices in bioethics, he argues that by combining utilitarianism and decision analysis, bioethics can achieve its aim of providing authoritative guidance in resolving thorny medical and ethical issues.

About the Author:
Jonathan Baron is Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Baron's diagnosis is correct: much is lacking in how bioethics has been translated into policy and practice. His proposed therapy, greater reliance on utilitarianism and decision theory, may not be a complete answer, but it moves the field in the right direction. Baron's critique, and his proposed solutions, deserve a wide readership."—Barbara A. Koenig, Professor of Medicine, Mayo College of Medicine

" Against Bioethics is a well-written, lucid,nontechnical exposition of how utilitarianism and its technical cousin, decision analysis, can be applied to a variety of bioethical problems including assisted suicide, informed consent, and the justifications for "going against nature" (a particularly intriguing chapter on genetic engineering and stem cell research). For the most part, the book avoids the computational complexities that have limited the audience for a decision-analytic view of these problems. Instead, it focuses on the philosophical principles at stake and works out their implications for action. Its critique of specific solutions recommended by applied bioethicists deserves serious consideration." Arthur Elstein , Professor Emeritus of Medical Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, past president, Society for Medical Decision Making

"*Against Bioethics* is a well-written, lucid, nontechnical exposition of how utilitarianism and its technical cousin, decision analysis, can be applied to a variety of bioethical problems including assisted suicide, informed consent, and the justifications for 'going against nature' (a particularly intriguing chapter on genetic engineering and stem cell research). For the most part, the book avoids the computational complexities that have limited the audience for a decision-analytic view of these problems. Instead, it focuses on the philosophical principles at stake and works out their implications for action. Its critique of specific solutions recommended by applied bioethicists deserves serious consideration."—Arthur Elstein, Professor Emeritus of Medical Education, University of Illinois at Chicago,past president, Society for Medical Decision Making

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262025966
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 2/20/2006
  • Series: Basic Bioethics
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Baron is Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Morality and Rational Choice, Thinking and Deciding, Judgment Misguided: Intuition and Error in Public Decision Making, and other books.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Bioethics vs. utilitarianism 9
3 Utilitarianism and decision analysis 25
4 Going against nature 51
5 Death and the value of life 83
6 Coercion and consent 97
7 Conflict of interest 131
8 Drug research 155
9 Allocation 179
10 The bigger picture 205
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