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Life Liberty & the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  51 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
At the onset of "Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity," Leon Kass gives us a status report on where we stand today: "Human nature itself lies on the operating table, ready for alteration, for eugenic and psychic 'enhancement,' for wholesale redesign. In leading laboratories, academic and industrial, new creators are confidently amassing their powers and quietly honing ...more
Paperback, 297 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Encounter Books (first published 2002)
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Nov 10, 2009 HomemakerMD rated it liked it
This was a heavy and rich work. I found Dr. Kass to have a profoundly well-though out explanation of his philosophical perspectives in many areas of bioethics. One complaint I had overall, however, was the tedious nature of his writing, and sometimes I wished he had more specific examples or practical applications for the points he was making. Granted, I agree with him that the defense of dignity is a hard thing, seeing as it is a value he describes as a “soft”, even “symbolic” (p15).
One stren
A.E. Reiff
Jun 30, 2015 A.E. Reiff rated it it was ok
The fantastic apparatus of intellect and imagination comes after birth. I remember the years before five brightly lit, but with no understanding. Subsequently I knew a large number of 90 year olds, people unenhanced, as we should say, without medical interventions. They did not mentally feel any older, but they were. Essentially it was a lesson in courage. None complained about their lot, but as you approach it you find that seventy is old, doubt it not. Youth replaced with being means austerity ...more
The American Conservative
'There is so much that Dr. Kass covers in this book—including many wonderful and illuminating insights—that this review simply cannot do it justice. For example, his discussion of the permanent limits of biology and its uncritical incorporation of philosophical materialism in its theory and practice is alone worth the price of the book. Although one may find oneself disagreeing with Dr. Kass on occasion, one will never cease to be impressed with, and sometimes moved by, his winsome discourse and ...more
Hannah Mueller
Aug 05, 2015 Hannah Mueller is currently reading it
"persons are deserving of respect not because of some realized excellence of achievement, but because of a universally shared participation in morality and and the ability to live under the moral law"(16)

"nothing humanly fine, let alone great, will come from the desire top pursue bodily immortality for ourselves" (20)
Feb 16, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book. I will be using it as one of my resources for a talk that I'm doing on personhood and genetic engineering. Kass relies on some biblical theology but also moral philosophy as his moral foundations for his ethic. And while he does not write from a distinctly Christian worldview (he's Jewish), his views on human dignity and his appeals to the fact that man's inherent dignity is based on our being made in the image of God is very useful. I can understand why scientists (who ...more
Andrew Votipka
Jan 12, 2016 Andrew Votipka rated it it was amazing
Read Leon Kass. Read everything he wrote. If anyone deserves to be called an original thinker it's him. A secular Jew that reinvented the study of bioethics.
LRK speaking for himself:

Fewer people yet worried about the effects on our .. society of coming to look upon nascent human life as a natural resource to be mined, exploited, commodified... We are desensitized and denatured by a coarsening of sensibility that comes to regard these practices as natural, ordinary and fully unproblematic. People who can hold nascent human life in their hands coolly and withour awe have deadened something in their souls.
For the desire to prolong youthfulness is ..
Mar 21, 2007 Megan rated it liked it
Shelves: bioethics
I don't agree with everything he has to say, but I like that he thinks about some of the issues currently going on in biomedical ethics and doesn't always takes a stand. It seems he's trying to get people to sit back and reflect on the roads we are taking, and I think that is a good thing.
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American physician, scientist, educator, and public intellectual, best known as proponent of liberal education via the "Great Books," as an opponent of human cloning, life extension and euthanasia, as a critic of certain areas of technological progress and embryo research, and for his controversial tenure as chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005. Although Kass is ofte ...more
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