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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Nathaniel J Brown, B.S.(Saint Louis University Department of Health Care Ethics)
Description: This is a collection of timely and mostly data-driven essays aimed at better informing the public at large about some currently contentious debates including stem cells, global warming, and the biology of gender.
Purpose: This volume encourages the emergence of more informed discourse by emphasizing the presentation of empirical data. The book thereby hopes to allay factual misunderstandings, and move these debates forward.
Audience: "The essays are aimed at a wide audience. They provide ready help to interested readers in bringing them up to speed in fields they are not familiar with. Many of the essays include diagrams of basic processes designed to make lay readers more comfortable with the material. More advanced readers could easily skip these introductory segments, and still glean much from the meatier sections that follow. The essays are clearly written, and the editors and contributors are all highly accomplished in their respective fields, which span a wide range of scientific disciplines as well as a number of different religious perspectives. "
Features: One of the chief virtues of this volume is its uniform emphasis on empirical data. This is particularly helpful in areas where factual misunderstandings may have muddied the debate, such as with global warming and stem cells. The chapter on stem cells provides a particularly thorough overview including a very helpful glossary of important terms. Though this volume certainly does not shy away from addressing charged yet important issues at the forefront of debate today, it also includes lower profile, but no less timely, topics such as privacy and information technology.
Assessment: This empirical approach does not stand alone in aiding social debates over scientific issues, but it is certainly a helpful, indeed vital, contribution. This book would be best used in conjunction with others addressing methods of ethical deliberation.