The Roots of Bioethics: Health, Progress, Technology, Death

The Roots of Bioethics: Health, Progress, Technology, Death

by Daniel Callahan
     
 

Daniel Callahan—-whose cofounding of The Hastings Center in 1969 was one of the most important milestones in the history of bioethics—has written on an uncommonly wide range of issues over a long career. They have moved back and forth between clinical care of individual patients and the ethical problems of health care research and delivery. Through his

Overview

Daniel Callahan—-whose cofounding of The Hastings Center in 1969 was one of the most important milestones in the history of bioethics—has written on an uncommonly wide range of issues over a long career. They have moved back and forth between clinical care of individual patients and the ethical problems of health care research and delivery. Through his many writings, four core problems have recurred in all of his work, and influence each of the others. What is health and how has its understanding been shaped by medical progress and the culture of medicine and society? What is progress, a deep value in modern health care and how should we judge it? What kinds of technological innovations that come out of the drive for progress are really good for us-and what do we do when there is a clash between individual good and social good in the use of expensive technologies, a problem now evident in the unsustainable high costs of health care? How should our understanding of the place of an inevitable death in all our lives, and its place in medicine, help us to better think of the goals of medicine and the goals of our life in seeking a good death? Those four questions have been with bioethics from its beginning and will remain with it for the indefinite future. They are the roots of bioethics.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Daniel Callahan is the Dean of bioethics—its major innovator, its early and inspirational leader, and its inner soul. The essays in this volume exhibit many of Dan's unique contributions to bioethics. Everyone who appreciates how crucial the last 50 years have been to bioethics will appreciate how important the essays in this volume are to that history." -Tom L. Beauchamp, Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University

"No one in the history of bioethics has been more influential than Dan Callahan. Dan has creatively addressed some of the most powerful bioethics issues over his long career — often in a distinctively insightful and contrarian fashion. These achievements, along with his role as co-founder of the Hastings Center, have more than earned him recognition as one of a handful of thinkers who shaped the second half of the 20th century." -Jonathan D. Moreno, David and Lyn Silfen University Professor, University of Pennsylvania

"It is hard to overstate the wise influence that Dan Callahan has had on American culture and values. He founded the field of bioethics and formed the Hastings Center, which has advanced bioethics scholarship for a generation. Read this book and you will never think the same about a good life and a decent society." -Lawrence O. Gostin, University Professor and Director, O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University

"With his usual enviable clarity and concision, Callahan's essays reflect back to us our fractious tormented society through the lens of the central questions. What are the ends of medicine, and for that matter, what are the ends of a society we would want our grandchildren to grow old in? They are the questions keeping all of us awake at night. There is no better guide to the questions and some compelling answers than Dan Callahan." -Diane E. Meier, M.D., Director, Center to Advance Palliative Care, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

"A prime mover in the field of bioethics, Dan Callahan has spent the past four decades initiating and deepening our debates about questions that really matter. He writes in this book that he has had a very good life, but his gift to us here is a very good read. We follow Callahan's passionate struggles with the challenges of contemporary biotechnology and his dissents from academic orthodoxies, but we also learn what it means to live a complete life as a deeply reflective, perpetually engaged, and fruitfully skeptical human being."-John D. Arras, University of Virginia

"In this relatively short review it would be impossible to do justice to these and the wide variety of other arguments that Callahan deploys in this absorbing collection.. A great book, constantly thought-provoking and constantly interesting, even when one disagrees with some of its claims and arguments, some of them no doubt modified by Callahan since he first presented them." — Raanan Gillon, Imperial College, London, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"There is notable insight to be gained from the articles a true pioneer in the field chose as representative of his work, as well as from the sections he chose to frame the selection of articles.... The main contribution of this book, then, is the convenience of having the collection of articles in one place..." — DOODY'S

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Gina M Fullam, BS (Saint Louis University)
Description: This is a collection of previously published articles and one unpublished manuscript by a founder and leader in the field of bioethics.
Purpose: The author suggests a twofold purpose for the collection. First, he notes that his interdisciplinary interests led him to publish in diverse journals, and this book is a way to gather articles representing the breadth of his work in one place in order to reach a wider audience. In addition, the author asserts that the articles are "a good sampler" of his work over more than four decades, representative of significant themes and arguments.
Audience: Each essay is written in the author's characteristically accessible, yet detailed and insightful style. The collection is thus suitable for students and scholars of bioethics, as well as other interested readers.
Features: The author organizes the essays around four themes: (1) bioethics; (2) aging, death, and medical progress; (3) resource allocation; and (4) technology. The choice of articles showcases the author's skill in considering contentious issues from new angles, as well as his willingness to challenge prevailing and well-entrenched sentiments. Regrettably, though original publication records for the articles are listed at the front of the book, it is a bit inconvenient to read time-sensitive information and arguments without dates of reference immediately at hand. This is especially a frustration given that the articles are not arranged chronologically even within the book's four sections.
Assessment: There is notable insight to be gained from the articles a true pioneer in the field chose as representative of his work, as well as from the sections he chose to frame the selection of articles. Nevertheless, the author's recently published autobiography, In Search of the Good: A Life in Bioethics (MIT Press, 2012) more readily provides this insight. The main contribution of this book, then, is the convenience of having the collection of articles in one place, and in this way, perhaps, serving as a companion to the author's memoir.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199931378
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
10/31/2012
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

Senior Research Scholar, President Emeritus and co-founder, Hastings Center of Bioethics. Co-director of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health Policy. Authof of 41 books including most recently Taming the Beloved Beast: Why Medical Technology Costs are Destroying Our Health Care System (Princeton University Press, August 2009); Medicine and the Market: Equity vs. Choice (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).

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