Cutting Through the Surface

Philosophical Approaches to Bioethics


This book examines the role of philosophy and philosophers in bioethics. Academics often see bioethical studies as too practical while decision makers tend to see them as too theoretical. The purpose of this collection of new essays by an international group of distinguished scholars is to explore the troubled relationship between theory and practice in the ethical assessment of medicine, health care, and new medical and genetic technologies.
The book is divided into six parts. In the first part, philosophers consider the definition of bioethics, the nature of applied ethics more generally, and the possibility of combining utilitarian and liberal strands of thinking in moral and political studies. In the second part, authors discuss the place and justification of principles in bioethics and the significance of medical and nursing experience in moral decision making. The third part addresses the complementary (or contradictory, as the case may be) principles of dignity, autonomy, precaution, and solidarity, and their use in theoretical and practical settings. In the fourth part, public health measures and experimental research are defended against traditional moral concerns. Part five scrutinizes parental responsibilities in bearing and rearing children, especially the reasons for and against human reproduction in individual cases. In part six, enhancements to human nature by various means are analyzed.
Following in the footsteps of four previous collections in the Values in Bioethics special series by the same editorial team—Scratching the Surface of Bioethics, Bioethics and Social Reality, Ethics in Biomedical Research, and Arguments and Analysis in Bioethics—this book, compiled in honor of Professor Matti Häyry’s 50th birthday, drills into the core of the discipline to show the philosophical depths that lie under the polished surface of policy-driven everyday bioethics.

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"If the field of bioethics were music, then this book would certainly be rock’n’roll. It certainly rocks and it is rebellious. (…) And even if you are new to the party, you truly learn a lot, as all the authors take their time to thoroughly ground their ideas and arguments in an impressively coherent style. It is this coherent style that distinguishes this book from other loosely edited volumes. In this book, all 23 texts perfectly fit together." – in: Medical Health Care and Philosophy 13 (2010)
"…covers quite a vast territory over the landscape of relevant issues in current bioethics. It does so whilst maintaining a high standard of rigorous argument and without superficial coverage. … The editors have fulfilled their promise to bring theory to bear on the real practical issues that affect people’s lives. As such it would be highly relevant not only to philosophers but also to members of the other disciplines that share this field of study, in particular, the health care professions." – in: Metascience
Foreword by Matti Häyry
Tuija Takala, Peter Herissone-Kelly, and Søren Holm: Introduction. Bioethics: What Lies Under the Surface?
What is Bioethics and Where Should It Be Going?
Sirkku K. Hellsten: Why “Definitions” Matter in Defining Bioethics?
Sven Ove Hansson: Ethics Beyond Application
Harry Lesser: Utilitarianism and Liberalism
How To Do Bioethics?
Veikko Launis: The Unbearable Lightness of Bioethical Principles
Juha Räikkä: The Method of Wide Reflective Equilibrium in Bioethics
Pekka Louhiala: But How Could They Know? Reflections on the Role of Philosophy and Philosophers in Medical Ethics
Leila Toiviainen: Does Nursing Ethics Fit in with Philosophy and Bioethics?
Dignity, Precaution, and Solidarity
Simon Woods: Dignity: Yet Another Look
Niall Scott: Autonomy (and a Little Bit of Dignity) in Bioethics
Michael Parker and Paolo Vineis: Concepts and Definitions of the Precautionary Principle: An Ethical Analysis
Vilhjálmur Árnason: Justice or Solidarity? Thinking about Nordic Prioritization in the Light of Rawls
Søren Holm: Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I’m 64? An Ethical Problem for the Modern Cosmopolitan Academic
Tests and Experiments
Margaret P. Battin, Charles B. Smith, Larry Reimer, Jay A. Jacobson, and Leslie P. Francis: Universal Rapid Testing for Infectious Disease in Airports and Places of Public Contact: A Thought Experiment about the Ethical Challenges
John Harris: Pigs and Principles: The Use of Animals in Research
Rosamond Rhodes: Research Ethics: A Decent Proposal
Rationality, Morality, and Reproduction
Floora Ruokonen and Simo Vehmas: Parental Responsibility and the Duty to Love One’s Children
Frank J. Leavitt: The Meaning of Suffering: A Critique of the Häyry Syndrome
Richard Ashcroft: Is It Irrational to Have Children?
Rebecca Bennett: Human Reproduction: Selfish and Irrational But Not Immoral
Tom Buller: Gambling, Risks, and Reproduction: A Reply to Matti Häyry
Philosophical Responses to Enhancements
Lisa Bortolotti: Do We Have an Obligation to Make Smarter Babies?
Heta Aleksandra Gylling: Youthful Looks—No Matter What It Costs?
Timo Airaksinen: New Life Forms: Min or Max Cyborgs?
About the Authors and Editors
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