November 27, 2022

Provocative new series in Journal of Medical Ethics

The Journal of Medical Ethics is constantly innovating in the selection and presentation of its material. The latest feature is “Author Meets Critics”, a series in which authors present the principal arguments of a recent book, and then respond to a handful of critics.

The Journal of Medical Ethics is constantly innovating in the selection and presentation of its material. The latest feature is “Author Meets Critics”, a series in which authors present the principal arguments of a recent book, and then respond to a handful of critics.

In its “on-line first” section the JME has just released concise precis of Unfit for the Future, a book about “moral bioenhancement” by Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu; Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, by Sarah Conly; and a defence of Human dignity in bioethics and law, by medical ethicist and barrister Charles Foster.

BioEdge has covered all these ideas in one way or other in the past, but another authors takes a revolutionary and quite unfamiliar approach to the whole field of bioethics in his precis. As the very term suggests, bioethical discourse privileges bios, life. While death is inevitable, the preservation and enhancement of life is the foundation of most contemporary bioethics.

An American philosopher, James Stacey Taylor, the author of Death, Posthumous Harm, and Bioethics, takes issue with this. He is an Epicurean and argues that “That death is not a harm to the person who dies, and that persons can neither be harmed nor wronged by events that occur after their deaths”. This has very direct consequences on issues like suicide and euthanasia, assisted posthumous reproduction, medical research on the dead, medical confidentiality and organ procurement.

It’s very stimulating reading. 

Michael Cook
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bioethics
death
Journal of Medical Ethics