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In Search of the Good: A Life in Bioethics

Overview

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 ...

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In Search of the Good: A Life in Bioethics

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Overview

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. In this memoir, Callahan describes his part in the founding of bioethics and traces his thinking on critical issues including embryonic stem cell research, market-driven health care, and medical rationing. He identifies the major challenges facing bioethics today and ruminates on its future. Callahan writes about founding the
Hastings Center--the first bioethics research institution--with the author and psychiatrist Willard Gaylin in 1969, and recounts the challenges of running a think tank while keeping up a prolific flow of influential books and articles. Editor of the famous liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal in the 1960s,
Callahan describes his now-secular approach to issues of illness and mortality. He questions the idea of endless medical "progress" and interventionist end-of-life care that seems to blur the boundary between living and dying. It is the role of bioethics, he argues, to be a loyal dissenter in the onward march of medical progress. The most important challenge for bioethics now is to help rethink the very goals of medicine.

The MIT Press

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

"This is a charmingly candid book about Daniel Callahan's early history,
intellectual development, career, and major interests. It is at times autobiographical, and often heartwarming. Masterfully written and of great importance to an understanding of the history of bioethics, In Search of the Good reminds us why Callahan has been so important to the field. Once
I picked it up, I found it impossible to put it down." -- Tom L.
Beauchamp
, Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy
Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University

The MIT Press

"A letter of invitation to the Hastings Center from Daniel Callahan in
1971 opened wide my life. This special book, like having the true pleasure of talking with Dan, will show you why. The trip through the life of someone who (with
Will Gaylin) invented bioethics, who is specially, humanly smart, interested in almost everything, well-read, and educated (in the best sense), is more than interesting. His ideas are always accessible, and while you may not agree with everything, you will be happier to have shared his thoughts." -- Eric
Cassell
, Emeritus Professor of Public Health, Weill Medical College of
Cornell University

The MIT Press

"Dan Callahan was the right moral philosopher to be present at the creation of bioethics. He tests the progress of medical science against the classical moral questions, how to live humanely and justly. At the same time, he forms his reflections into realistic, rational policies and practices. Good counsel for current and future bioethics!" -- Albert R. Jonsen, author of
The Birth of Bioethics

The MIT Press

"How refreshing to read a first-hand account from a person who was there at (or close to) the moment of creation of a new field. As befits his status as a respected founding father, Dan Callahan's book In Search of the
Good
is equal parts personal memoir, historical review, and critical analysis of U.S. bioethics -- a field he and the Hastings Center helped to create.
The book, filled with charm, wit, and occasional pointed barbs, traces Callahan's life in bioethics and we are all the wiser for it." -- Eric M.
Meslin
, Director, Indiana University Center for Bioethics

The MIT Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262018487
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2012
  • Series: Basic Bioethics
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 1,440,213
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Callahan is Research Scholar and President Emeritus of the Hastings Center,
a nonpartisan bioethics research center. He is the author or editor of many books,
including, most recently, Taming the Beloved Beast: How Medical Technology
Costs Are Destroying Our Health Care System
.
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Table of Contents

Series Foreword ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xix

1 Laying the Foundations: 1930-1961 1

2 My Own 1960s: A Decade of Transformation 25

3 Giving Birth to a Center: 1969-1979 49

4 Coping with Success: 1980-1986 77

5 The Routinization of Charisma: 1986-1996 103

6 Opening the Floodgates: 1996-2010 125

7 The Future of Bioethics 145

8 Unraveling the Puzzle of Ethics 173

9 Reaching the Finish Line 189

Index 199

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