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Biotechnology and the Human Good

Publication Year: 2007

Some of humankind's greatest tools have been forged in the research laboratory. Who could argue that medical advances like antibiotics, blood transfusions, and pacemakers have not improved the quality of people's lives? But with each new technological bre

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-xi

Listening to Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading in England, enthuse about his research is like listening to a prepubescent schoolboy describing his trip to Disney World. Warwick claims to be the world’s first cyborg: part human, part machine. On Monday, August 24, 1998, he had a silicon chip transponder...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

Readers will notice that we do not identify an author for each chapter of this book. This directly reflects our methodology. After the book’s authors and external reviewers were chosen, the team met for a two-day retreat. Each of us presented our initial thoughts about the goals and content of the project. After extensive critiques, we agreed on...

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ONE: The Rapidly Changing World of Biotechnology

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pp. 1-14

Technology is an integral part of human life, from the simplest tools made from plants and stones to our digital computers, cardiac pacemakers, pharmaceuticals, and the ubiquitous media of communication and transportation. Human beings are toolmakers; we are Homo faber. Although other animals demonstrate the ability to use elements of...

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TWO: Humanity and the Technological Narrative

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pp. 15-31

Technologies are teleological. That is to say, they have certain goals or purposes. Teleologies are value laden. Good ends are sometimes pursued, bad ends are sometimes pursued, and there is always the possibility that a technological aim is indifferent. Clearly, then, technology is not an unqualified good. This may come as no small surprise to our technologically...

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THREE: Biotechnology and Competing Worldviews

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pp. 32-57

Biotechnology: The term conjures up visions of science fiction to some, and to others it suggests the ultimate postmodern hope for human beings to remake themselves according to their own design. Others are cautiously optimistic about the benefits of the emerging biotechnologies, seeing the potential for good but recognizing the prospects...

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FOUR: Biotechnology and Human Dignity

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pp. 58-86

Few terms or ideas are more central to bioethics—or less clearly defined— than human dignity.1 People invoke it to support almost anything. So it is a standard to which most people are quite receptive. But understanding how people use it, and how a Christian perspective on it can help clarify its meaning and implications, constitutes one of the greatest challenges...

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FIVE: Biotechnology and the Quest for Control

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pp. 87-109

Current and future technocratic ‘‘freedoms’’ advance elimination of less-than-perfect human bodies as a primary goal. This dynamic is worthy of careful examination. The purposes of this chapter are threefold. First, we measure some contemporary projects that deny human finitude and promote, instead, a technocratic agenda of full control of the human...

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SIX: Biotechnology, Human Enhancement, and the Ends of Medicine

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pp. 110-136

One of humanity’s persistent dreams has been to seize control of nature’s laws and eradicate the fragility and finitude of human life. For most of human history, this elusive hope resided only in the literary imagination. Writers fashioned a multitude of utopias free of strife, aging, disease, and death.1 Others just as zealously exposed the nightmares...

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SEVEN: Conclusion: Toward a Foundation for Biotechnology

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pp. 137-158

In the preceding chapters, we have presented the background considerations necessary to inform the theoretical foundations of biotechnology. Our goal in this conclusion is to develop these concepts into a series of principles, expressed through questions, that we hope will help assess biotechnologies philosophically, theologically, and practically. We...

Notes

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pp. 159-192

Authors and Collaborators

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pp. 193-196

Index

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pp. 197-210


E-ISBN-13: 9781589012769
E-ISBN-10: 1589012763
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589011380
Print-ISBN-10: 1589011384

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2007

Series Editor Byline:

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Subject Headings

  • Biotechnology -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Medical ethics.
  • Values.
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