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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Kelly K Dineen, RN, JD (Saint Louis University School of Law)
Description: This book analyzes the benefits and burdens of biotechnology through the lens of medicine, science, theology, ethics, and law. The authors describe advances in human biotechnology, examine our intuitional reactions to innovation, and offer frameworks for the morally responsible use of technology.
Purpose: The authors review the literature on the prevalent and disparate approaches to the responsible use of human biotechnology. Using Christian theological foundations, they offer methods for testing the appropriate use of biotechnology. The authors seek a reasonable middle ground that embraces the good that innovation offers coupled with appropriate skepticism surrounding potential abuses.
Audience: This book, identified by the authors as a work in bioethics, is relevant for those studying or engaged in multidisciplinary scholarship as well as students or scholars of theology, philosophy, science, medicine, and law. Readers should be aware that the analyses employed in the book are largely based in Judeo-Christian theism.
Features: While biotechnology is essential to the relief of human suffering and preservation of health, the authors propose a nuanced view of human dignity that seeks to shield us from repeating the abuses of the past. The authors first provide an overview of the future of biotechnology including innovations such as nanotechnology, cybernetics, and genetic manipulation. In chapter 4, the Judeo-Christian view of human dignity as guiding morally licit law and policy is examined using a historical review of previous abuses. Chapters 5 and 6 examine the role of the perversion of the concepts of autonomy, choice, and consumerism in the improper use of technology. The last chapter offers a series of foundational questions necessary to evaluate the use of biotechnology and a framework for the analysis of the use of technology based on Christian theology.
Assessment: The chapters are not separately authored but were developed and reviewed in collaboration with multiple authors and outside editors, including several from outside the U.S. This collaborative, multidisciplinary writing lends itself to a unified voice throughout the book and a balanced approach to the issues. Because of the breadth of material, readers with no previous exposure would benefit from supplemental readings in the area. The use of particular examples of potential harm associated with certain technologies is especially helpful in providing a clinical context for the discussion. The foundational questions in Chapter 7 are particularly beneficial and are relevant to both secular and theological analysts.