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The Foundations of Bioethics Hardcover – 21 Dec 1995

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"Engelhardt has done it again--the second edition of The Foundations of Bioethics presents a powerful and controversial challenge and alternative to major frameworks of bioethics. It is not possible to do bioethics responsibly without close attention to this important book."--James Childress, University of Virginia"One of the most brilliant books to appear in the field of bioethics."--The New England Journal of Medicine"This is a fascinating and intellectually provocative book and an extensive development and clarification of some of the themes of the first edition. Thoroughly recommended to anyone with a real interest in medical ethics. Those who object to the centrality of the principle of autonomy in Engelhardt's philosophy may find it easier to accept in its new guise of the principle of permission."--Raanan Gillon, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine"We need not agree with Engelhardt's major theses nor his conclusions but we must admire the impressive breadth of his scholarship, the vigorous reasoning and original thinking. Anyone concerned with the philosophical substrata of secular bioethics must read this careful revision of Engelhardt's justly acclaimed seminal book."--Edmund Pellegrino, Georgetown University"The second edition of Dr. Engelhardt's The Foundations of Bioethics is much more sharply focused in developing and describing the layout of postmodern secular ethics among moral strangers and moral friends. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason marked the Copernican turn in epistemiological reasoning; the second edition refined the original concept in clarity, rigorosity and vision. Engelhardt's The Foundations of Bioethics surveys the landscape of postmodern moral reasoning; the second edition marks the Copernican turn in postmodern ethical reasoning and will become the classical reader for generations to come."--Hans-Martin Sass, Ruhr-Universitat, Bochum"Do not be deceived--this is not just another rev

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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By James L. Park - Published on
Format: Hardcover
H. Tristram Engelhardt, , Jr.
The Foundations of Bioethics

(New York: Oxford University Press, 1986) p. 107, 108.

This book contains two chapters addressing the issue of personhood,
at the beginning and end of human life.
The author clearly believes that full persons should have higher status
and more rights than pre-persons or former persons.
The ability to make responsible decisions ("moral agency")
is one of the most distinctive marks of personhood.

The following two quotes are from pages 107 & 108 respectively:

"What distinguishes persons is their capacity to be self-conscious,
rational, and concerned with worthiness of blame and praise.
The possibility of such entities
grounds the possibility of the moral community.
It offers us a way of reflecting on the rightness and wrongness
of actions and the worthiness or unworthiness of actors.

On the other hand, not all humans are persons.
Not all humans are self-conscious, rational,
and able to conceive of the possibility of blaming and praising.
Fetuses, infants, the profoundly mentally retarded,
and the hopelessly comatose provide examples of nonpersons.
Such entities are members of the human species.
They do not in and of themselves have standing in the moral community.
They cannot blame or praise or be worthy of blame or praise.
They are not prime participants in the moral endeavor.
Only persons have that status."

"For this reason it is nonsensical to speak of respecting
the autonomy of fetuses, infants, or profoundly retarded adults,
who have never been rational.
There is no autonomy to affront.
Treating such entities without regard
for that which they do not possess, and never have possessed,
despoils them of nothing.
They fall outside the inner sanctum of morality."

Engelhardt goes on to discuss further the difference between
human personal life and human biological life.
He acknowledges that zygotes, embryos, & fetuses
are potential persons, but until they become full persons,
they do not possess the rights of persons.
He also acknowledges that animals have some rights
because they have some level of consciousness.

If you would like to see other attempts to define personhood,
search the Internet for this precise phrase:
"Personhood Bibliography".

James Leonard Park, existential philosopher and medical ethicist
6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Foundations of Bioethics 2 Oct. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Rarely, does anyone get down to the elemental processes of human interactions. This book is one of those rare occasions. It basically negates all known ethical methods and demands respect for human rights (albeit in a un- or under-stated way).
Post-Modern Ethics has no where to go except to the process of mutual respect of individuals.
This is a difficult book to read because it cuts through all internal and external methods thus attacking one's own value system. A section on axiology would have been a plus (but not necessary.)
It's must read for the new mellenium.
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