A guide to the rapidly progressing Age of Biotechnology, Brutes or Angels provides basic information on a wide array of new technologies in the life sciences, along with the ethical issues raised by each.
With stem cell research, Dolly the cloned sheep, in vitro fertilization, age retardation, and pharmaceutical mind enhancement, humankind is now faced with decisions that it has never before had to consider. The thoughtfulness, or lack of it, that we bring to those decisions will largely determine the future character of the living world.
Brutes or Angels will facilitate informed choice making about the personal use of biotechnologies and the formulation of public policies governing their development and use. Ten biotechnologies that impact humans are considered: stem cell research, embryo selection, human genomics, gene therapies, human reproductive cloning, age retardation, cognition enhancement, the engineering of nonhuman organisms, nanobiology, and synthetic biology.
With deft and assured use of metaphors, analogies, diagrams, and photographs, James T. Bradley introduces important biological principles and the basic procedures used in biotechnology. Various ethical issues--personhood, personal identity, privacy, ethnic discrimination, distributive justice, authenticity and human nature, and the significance of mortality in the human life cycle--are presented in a clear and unbiased manner. Personal reflection and group dialogue are encouraged by questions at the end of each chapter, making this book not only a general guide to better informed and nuanced thinking on these complex and challenging topics but also an appropriate text for bioethics courses in university science departments and for adult education classes.
Standing at the beginning of the twenty-first century, with burgeoning abilities to enhance and even create life in ways unimaginable just a few decades ago, humans have an awesome responsibility to themselves and other species. Brutes or Angelsinvites us to engage each other in meaningful dialogue by listening, gathering information, formulating thoughtful views, and remaining open to new knowledge and ethical argumentation.
List of Illustrations
1. Cells and Molecules: The Unity of Life
2. Stem Cells: Embryos, Therapeutic Cloning, and Personhood
3. Embryo Selection: Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
4. The Human Genome Project: Spin-Offs and Fallout
5. Human Diversity, Genes, and Medicine: Richness and Dangers
6. Genetic Enhancement: Humankind Healing and Redesigning Itself
7. Human Reproductive Cloning: Sameness, Uniqueness, and Personal Identity
8. Age Retardation: Chasing Immortality for Better or Worse
9. The Mind: Neuroenhancement and Neuroethics
10. Synthetic Biology: From Cocreator to Creator