Worth Your Time: Selections from the Bioethics Library

April 11, 2023 • Posted in Blog

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D. Distinguished Fellow of the Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D.
Distinguished Fellow
The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture


The Way of Medicine: Ethics and the Healing Profession by Farr Curlin, MD and Christopher Tollefsen

Written by a palliative care physician/ethicist and a philosopher, The Way of Medicine is both diagnostic and prescriptive. Curlin and Tollefsen begin by showing readers why medicine is in crisis. At the heart of the crisis is the “provider of services model” (PSM) as the role of the physician which has not only eroded the profession qua a profession, but has helped to make medicine just another consumer good. Physicians are merely providers and patients are either clients or customers. And we all know the customer is always right, even when he or she isn’t. This is not an “ain’t it all bad and don’t we all know it” book, however. It is chock full of cases and recommendations for the rehabilitation of the proper way of medicine.


Begotten or Made? A New Edition for the 21st Century by Oliver O’Donovan

This volume is a much-needed reprint of an extraordinarily insightful essay by one of this century’s best thinkers, Oliver O’Donovan, former Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Christ Church College in Oxford. It includes an afterward by the author and a very helpful introduction by Matthew Lee Anderson of Baylor University. The book comprises a series of prescient public lectures given by O’Donovan in 1983, just over the threshold of the new reproductive technologies, especially in vitro fertilization. O’Donovan makes the case that medicalizing what he calls “sex by artifice” (making as opposed to begetting) has caused us to lose sight of the meaning of the human person.


Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body by the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, March 2023

The Council of Catholic Bishops begins their doctrinal note by saying: “Modern technology offers an ever-increasing range of means—chemical, surgical, genetic—for intervening in the functioning of the human body, as well as for modifying its appearance. These technological developments have provided the ability to cure many human maladies and promise to cure many more. This has been a great boon to humanity. Modern technology, however, produces possibilities not only for helpful interventions, but also for interventions that are injurious to the true flourishing of the human person. Careful moral discernment is needed to determine which possibilities should be realized and which should not, in order to promote the good of the human person.” Grounded in the reality of the created order, human embodiment, and biological sex as gifts, the bishops offer sound counsel about how to treat human mental and physical suffering and promote human flourishing without mutilating human bodies in the process.