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African American Bioethics

Culture, Race, and Identity

Lawrence J. Prograis Jr., MD, and Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD, Editors

Publication Year: 2007

Do people of differing ethnicities, cultures, and races view medicine and bioethics differently? And, if they do, should they? Are doctors and researchers taking environmental perspectives into account when dealing with patients? If so, is it done effectively and properly? In African American Bioethics, Lawrence J. Prograis Jr. and Edmund D. Pellegrino bring together medical practitioners, researchers, and theorists to assess one fundamental question: Is there a distinctive African American bioethics? The book's contributors resoundingly answer yesùyet their responses vary. They discuss the continuing African American experience with bioethics in the context of religion and tradition, work, health, and U.S. society at largeùfinding enough commonality to craft a deep and compelling case for locating a black bioethical framework within the broader practice, yet recognizing profound nuances within that framework. As a more recent addition to the study of bioethics, cultural considerations have been playing catch-up for nearly two decades. African American Bioethics does much to advance the field by exploring how medicine and ethics accommodate differing cultural and racial norms, suggesting profound implications for growing minority groups in the United States.

Published by: Georgetown University Press


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pp. viii

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Introduction: Culture and Bioethics:Where Ethics and Mores Meet

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pp. ix-xxi

“CULTURE” is perhaps the slipperiest concept in the social sciences.1 Some years ago, Kroeber and Kluckhohn collected 164 definitions.2 Of the many definitions available, we believe Kuper best captures the connotations of the word in his crisp characterization of culture as a “collective cast of mind.”3...

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Chapter 1. Revisiting African American Perspectives on Biomedical Ethics: Distinctiveness and Other Questions

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pp. 1-24

WHAT could make for a perspective on medical ethics that might be meaningfully and helpfully described as African American? Such a point of view might be distinguished by (a) its topics, for example, a focus on the distribution of services and their delivery to the poor, or on certain illnesses dis-proportionately common or severe among African Americans (e.g., breast...

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Chapter 2. The Moral Weight of Culture in Ethics

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pp. 25-46

SOCIAL anthropology once had to nurse the self-inflicted wound of its characterization as a discipline that is insensitive to the values and identities of other cultures. Seeing non-Western cultures through the prism of a chauvinistic Western male, and judging the modes of life of others by Western standards, earned some pioneer social anthropologists and their politi-...

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Chapter 3. Whitewashing Black Health: Lies, Deceptions, Assumptions, and Assertions—and the Disparities Continue

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pp. 47-66

OVER the last several decades, the federal government and private foundations have focused on the appalling health disparities between racial/ethnic minorities and whites, with their goal being to narrow the health status gap between nonwhites and whites. For example, the 1965 Medicare-Medicaid legislation improved access to health care for African Americans...

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Chapter 4. Race, Equity, Health Policy, and the African American Community

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pp. 67-92

Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you . . . for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line . . . the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the...

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Chapter 5. Religion and Ethical Decision Making in the African American Community: Bioterrorism and the Black Postal Workers

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pp. 93-104

IN THE weeks following the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, some letters containing deadly anthrax spores were mailed to two senators on Capitol Hill, leading to the first cases of bioterrorism-related anthrax in the United States. As they were processed and delivered through the mail system, the contaminated letters caused...

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Chapter 6. Personal Narrative and an African American Perspective on Medical Ethics

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pp. 105-126

BIOMEDICAL ethics is a subject that is attracting much attention both from laypersons and from health care professionals. Indeed, I believe that developments in other peripherally related areas are catalyzing this renewed general interest in ethics. The Abu Ghraib prison debacle in Iraq certainly has contributed to focusing attention on the ethics of prosecuting war. But it...

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Chapter 7. Does an African American Perspective Alter Clinical Ethical Decision Making at the Bedside?

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pp. 127-136

THE QUESTION in the title of this chapter is just the type of query for which Friedrich Nietzsche would have had scathing commentary. He might have asked, “Does a German, or Christian, or European perspective alter clinical ethical decision making at the bedside?” He would likely say, “Yes,and in a frightening and self-conscious fashion.” Any perspective tied to...

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Chapter 8. Race, Genetics, and Ethics

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pp. 137-152

ON AUGUST 24, 2004, Boston Globe correspondent Carolyn Johnson re-ported on a controversial development in the study of a new combination of drugs (BiDil) for heart failure. The controversy arose because the African American Heart Failure Trial (A-HeFT), the clinical trial for BiDil, sponsored by NitroMed, was halted prematurely after it was found to significantly...

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Afterword: An African American’s Internal Perspective on Biomedical Ethics

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pp. 153-158

Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects.The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses Elie Wiesel’s articulation of what outlines, casts an illumination, or draws a rough image not only of objects but also of non objects defines a focus on the context of human life. We all cast shadows within and outside of our lives....


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pp. 159-160


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pp. 161-169

E-ISBN-13: 9781589012325
E-ISBN-10: 1589012321
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589011649
Print-ISBN-10: 1589011643

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2007