on 27 December 2001
Reviewing the major cases that have shaped bioethical thinking on life and death, Peter Singer dares what no other philosoper has: namely, challenge society's conventional beliefs about the meaning of life and death. He poses many ethical questions that are raised because of medicine's ability to maintain brain dead bodies functioning at any costs. From the tale of Trisha Marshall whose 'life' was maintained by a respirator for 100 days until she delivered her baby, to the cases of Nancy Cruzan and Anthony Bland, patients in a persistent vegetative state supported by artificial nutrition and hydration, Singer argues that law and medicine have moved to an ethic where 'quality of life' distinctions trump the traditional 'sanctity of life' positions. Throughout this book, Singer presents provocative and challenging views through ethical and historical analysis of brain death, abortion, euthanasia and organ donation, thus providing a deep and textured discussion of the major medical ethics problems that we face.
on 14 May 2010
I've had this book for a couple of years and have read it twice. The first time it challenged my ethical views on euthanasia and abortion with detailed analysis of many world-wide cases that forced difficult ethical decisions on life and death. I was left with a feeling that I had to chose between a life as a vegetarian or accept that human life has no value at all. For a meat-eater, I was inclined to go with the latter.
A few months later, I plucked up courage to read the book again, after reading articles about the author and his campaigns for animal welfare. I could see the bias this time and, towards the end of the book, the arguments became less convincing.
In providing ammunition for arguments against anti-abortionists and pro-lifers, the book provides many strong points with which to confuse them. It certainly is a book to read with an open mind, but with awareness (as in all things) of the bias.