I am a few pages shy of finishing BODY AND SOUL. Part one argues for Thomistic Substance Dualism (differentiated from Cartesian Substance Dulaism), and it's written by J.P. Moreland.
Part two takes the arguments for substance dualism and demonstrates the logical implications substance dualism has regarding abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, etc.
The book is crucially important for anyone thinking through the bioethics of these issues.
As important and fascinating as the book is, there are some weakneses. The first thing that will strike the reader is that part one (Moreland) is far more difficult reading than part two (Rae).
Basically, part one assumes a more advanced philosophical background of the reader. This is not to say that a reasonably intelligent person with little background in philosophy cannot benefit, but it will take some work, re-reading certain paragraphs a few times, etc.
I think it would be a worthwhile assignment for Mr. Moreland to rewrite part one to get the hay down out of the loft, so us cows can get to it:-) Part one would also flow better into part two as a result.
It's interesting to note that Moreland, in a lecture I attended, did lay out the basic themes of the book in more user friendly language. I think his position is well articulated in the book, book it would be of greater benefit to many more if he would put out a version more like his lecture.
By the way, here is a VERY important piece of advice: The average reader will follow Moreland's reasoning MUCH better if you get a hold of his lectures on the same subject, or at least get a copy of a taped radio program in which he discussed the book (The web site for STAND TO REASON).
Just about anyone who is reasonably intelligent can follow part two of BODY AND SOUL more easily--FAR more easily. In part two, Rae does a good job of laying out conservative bioethics.
But the arguments that are the crucial background to Rae's bioethics are, again, found in part one which is, in many respects, the most important part of the book since so much in bioethics stands or falls on the substance dualism articulated therein.
A few crucially important premises put forth by Moreland in BODY AND SOUL:
The soul is the "driver" behind the DNA of a person. As I understand Moreland, this explains the apparent teleological purposing end for which the DNA strives. This "driver" soul makes more sense than a purposeless physicalism.
The brain/soul relation (the most fascinating aspect of the whole debate) is not problematic when properly understood. The effects of alzheimers/brain damage, etc., does not rule out the immaterial soul. The soul affects the body (Worry, thoughts, etc., which by definition are immaterial, affect physical health), just as much as the body affects the soul (brain damage affecting behavior, etc).
For instance, a car needs a properly functioning driver, as much as a driver needs a properly functioning car. Either can be damaged and affect the other.
A purely physicalist view of man cannot satisfactorily account for immaterial thoughts, feelings, etc., the way that substance dualism can. On this point Moreland provides a strong criticism of physicalist emergent properties.
Moreland believes that animals have souls, which is to say an immaterial reasoning self, but these souls are not necessarily immortal, and they are inferior to human souls. For instance, Animals think, but they don't think about thinking--philosophizing, as man does.
Moreland makes the important observation that Christians should not argue against animals having souls lest they inadvertantly (and wrongly) argue that a thinking animal need only be physical--the very physicalism that atheists often employ!
BODY AND SOUL is a crucial book because it will affect your views on many crucial questions. If you are someone who wants to advance in knowledge and challenge yourself in the logic of human nature and the implications which follow, BODY AND SOUL is a good start.