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Hindu Bioethics for the Twenty-first Century

S. Cromwell Crawford

Publication Year: 2003

S. Cromwell Crawford breaks new ground in this provocative study of Hindu bioethics in a Western setting. He provides a new moral and philosophical perspective on fascinating and controversial bioethical issues that are routinely in the news: cloning, genetic engineering, the human genome project, reproductive technologies, the end of life, and many more. This Hindu perspective is particularly noteworthy because of India’s own indigenous medical system, which is stronger than ever and drawing continued interest from the West. The Hindu bioethics presented in this book are philosophically pluralistic and ethically contextual, giving them that conceptual flexibility which is often missing in Western religions, but which is demanded by the twenty-first century’s complex moral problems. Comprehensive in scope and passionate in nature, Crawford’s study is an important resource for analyses of practical ethics, bioethics, and health care.

Published by: State University of New York Press

TItle Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

Thanks first to the Indian Council of Philosophic Research, Delhi, for selecting me to present the National Lectures for 1999 at four Indian universities on the subject of this volume. Many ethicists have contributed to my thought, including Tom L. ...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-8

This is a philosophic study of Hindu bioethics. It represents a single Hindu model of the new discipline of bioethics, which is the application of ethical principles to the problems of medicine and biological research. Bioethics is a product of the mid-1960s. Until that time, Hippocratic ...

PART ONE. FOUNDATIONS

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pp. 9-

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CHAPTER 1. HINDU ETHICS

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pp. 11-30

The Sanskrit word for ethics is dharma (“to hold”). It signifies that which upholds or embodies law, custom, and religion, and is analogous to the concept of ‘Natural Law’ in Christian ethics, though the idea of ‘law’ should not detract from its dynamic character. Dharma is activity, mobility ...

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CHAPTER 2. INDIAN MEDICINE

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pp. 31-92

A unique feature of Hinduism is that a fully fledged system of medicine evolved within its complex ethos. The historical developments are shrouded in mystery due to their long antiquity. Yet, inasmuch as all primitive societies have survived by recourse to some rudimentary system ...

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CHAPTER 3. A HINDU BIOETHICAL ANALYSIS of Health/Disease and Physician/Patient Relationships in American Society

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pp. 93-111

Since the founding of the colonies, Americans have evinced extraordinary fascination for and experimentation with matters of health and disease, and the driving impulse of this interest has been their understanding of the role of religion in the common life. This is abundantly clear when one ...

PART TWO. ISSUES AT THE BEGINNING AND END OF LIFE

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pp. 113-

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CHAPTER 4. TECHNOLOGY AND THE WOMB

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pp. 115-124

In Part One we sought to present the basic tenets of the Hindu ethical system. In Part Two we attempt to clarify the implications of these fundamental ethical principles for select moral issues that raise new challenges in medical contexts. ...

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CHAPTER 5. DILEMMAS AT BIRTH

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pp. 125-130

A medical revolution in the 1980s that assured the survival of very tiny premature babies has led to a generation of disabled children who are often retarded, handicapped, severely nearsighted, and inattentive. Most of these problems resulted because their bodies were simply too undeveloped ...

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CHAPTER 6. WHEN PARENTS LET CHILDREN SUFFER FOR REASONS OF FAITH

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pp. 131-137

The American legal system is constantly being placed at odds with the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom. Quite frequently stories capture headlines, with scenarios such as this. Twelve-year-old “Jody” sits slumped in a chair, her face ashen with pain. She asks a state judge to ...

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CHAPTER 7. THE ETHICS OF CONTRACEPTION

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pp. 138-141

The Alan Guttmacher Institute sponsored a study that appeared in the January/February 1988 edition of Family Planning Perspective, conveying some good news. It announced that the U.S. rate of unintended pregnancy among women fifteen to forty-four years old is decreasing. And ...

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CHAPTER 8. THE ETHICS OF PRENATAL DIAGNOSIS FOR SEX SELECTION

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pp. 142-145

In a typical Indian household, a mother of two daughters is very happy when she knows she is going to have a son. It could mean an end to taunts of her mother-in-law and neighbors. She will gain “honor” by having a boy. ...

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CHAPTER 9. THE ETHICS OF THE HUMAN GENOME PROJECT

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pp. 146-149

The doctor’s office is already beginning to wear a new look. Alongside the traditional diplomas and pictorial renderings of skeletal parts and organs, we see colorful charts that depict the twenty-three pairs of human chromosomes and pinpoint on each one the location of the genes that can ...

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CHAPTER 10. THE ETHICS OF GENETIC ENGINEERING

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pp. 150-158

A new revolution is sweeping medicine. The first revolution in Western medicine occurred in 1854, when British surgeon John Snow discovered that cholera was spread by contaminated water, ushering systems of sanitation that saved millions from deadly infections. The second revolution ...

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CHAPTER 11. THE ETHICS OF CLONING

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pp. 159-166

In the beginning there was Dolly. The Observer broke the news to a stunned world that on July 5, 1996, Scottish scientist Ian Wilmut, of the Roslin Institute, had cloned a sheep named Dolly. Results were published in the British journal Nature, March 1997. Wilmut explained that he had ...

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CHAPTER 12. THE ETHICS OF POPULATION GROWTH

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pp. 167-175

Explosive human growth was one of the defining characteristics of the twentieth century. Global population quadrupled—growing faster than at any time in history. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the world’s population was approximately 1.5 billion; at the end, it had ...

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CHAPTER 13. THE ETHICS OF AGING: Maximizing the Quality of Later Life

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pp. 176-187

America is aging. Since the 1960s, we have shifted from “the greening of America” to “the graying of America.” According to figures from the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, “Persons 65 years of age and over made up 9.2% of the population in 1960 and 12.3% in 1990; this figure is ...

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CHAPTER 14. THE ETHICS OF DEATH AND DYING

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pp. 188-198

An Arabian proverb describes death as “a black camel, which kneels at the gates of all.” Though death is a human universal, how people think about it, and the manner in which they cope with the losses that come with death, varies markedly from culture to culture. Anthropologist ...

Notes

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pp. 199-211

Glossary

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pp. 213-215

Bibliography

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pp. 217-222

Index

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pp. 223-226


E-ISBN-13: 9780791486580
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791457795
Print-ISBN-10: 0791457796

Page Count: 226
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: SUNY series in Religious Studies
Series Editor Byline: Harold Coward

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Bioethics -- Religious aspects -- Hinduism.
  • Medical ethics -- Religious aspects -- Hinduism.
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