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Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing

December 2, 2019 • Posted in Blog


A Book Review By R. Henry Williams, M.D., F.A.C.P., M.A. (Ethics) Board Chairman, The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture

Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing Erik Parens and Josephine Johnston, Editors Oxford University Press, 2019



As we now live in a time when our genetic code can be altered, whether for better or worse, how should we think about what is best for ourselves? How can we as a human species and as individuals flourish? These are the questions posed in the new volume, Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing. The essays here are interactive, frequently referencing one another, as the more

A Book for (Y)our Time – A Review

March 28, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

Reading Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene: An Intimate History (NY, NY: Scribner, 2016; paperback, 2017) is to take a 150+ year print journey with an English-speaking physician and scientist, who is also a renaissance man. Mukherjee, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for his non-fiction work, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. I have not read that earlier work, but have spent time delving into The Gene.

The Gene: An Intimate History begins with the author’s 2012 trip to Calcutta with his father to visit a more

Book Review: Ghost Boy

March 9, 2015 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A.

How do we treat the vulnerable among us? Ghost Boy, by Martin Pistorius with Megan Lloyd Davies, is an excellent book to help us explore this question.

Martin Pistorious was a 12-year-old South African school boy when he became ill in 1988. Over the next year, he became wheelchair bound and mute, and spent much of his time over the next 14 years in institutions. That is not the end of the story, however, and he, with Megan Lloyd Davies, tells the story of his awakening and subsequent life in Ghost Boy (Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2013).

Martin’s inability to more

Transplantation Ethics

April 12, 2010 • Posted in Book Reviews

As professor of medical ethics at Georgetown University’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Robert M. Veatch is an able dissector of the ethical principles involved in the arena of human organ transplantation.  As a member of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Ethics Committee, and formerly chair of its Organ Allocation Subcommittee, Veatch has practical experience with many of the issues involved in the distribution of organs for transplantation.  As chair of a local Organ-Procurement Organization (OPO) Task Force on Directed Donation, he has particular insight into procurement.  While Transplantation Ethics is certainly a reference, it is more an exposition more

Belmont Revisited: Ethical Principles for Research with Human Subjects

April 12, 2010 • Posted in Book Reviews

The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research was created in 1974 and, after much deliberation (including four days at the Smithsonian Institution’s Belmont Conference Center), released its recommendations in April, 1979. The Belmont Report, after 25 years, is reconsidered in this book by authors prominent in bioethics, economics, law, medicine, medical ethics, philosophy, public health, public policy, and sociology. Three of these authors — Albert R. Jonsen, Patricia King, and Karen Lebacqz — served as members of the National Commission, while Tom L. Beauchamp was assigned the task of writing the original document.

The more

Fifty Years After the Declaration: The United Nations’ Record on Human Rights

April 12, 2010 • Posted in Book Reviews

With the recently approved Human Rights Council replacing the widely discredited United Nations’ Human Rights Commission, Fifty Years After the Declaration:  The United Nations’ Record on Human Rights is a timely and, indeed, a necessary read.  Whatever one’s interpretation of the United Nations’ beginnings, history, or current functioning, a retrospective consideration of that body’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published in 1948, is a task worthy of the time required to digest this short work.

Having experienced two world wars in little more than thirty years’ time, those who composed the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 were more

Human Dignity and Human Embodiment

April 12, 2010 • Posted in Book Reviews

Human dignity is a hard concept to define and an essential one to understand in our rapidly changing biotech society. In Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics, Leon Kass has provided a liberal democratic view of human dignity. Human dignity for Kass rests in human embodiment and human finitude.

As Americans, Kass notes that we have long enjoyed the protection of human dignity as expressed in natural or negative rights. Our dignity has been protected from the interference of others in our “blameless liberties.” Therefore, we have the right to freedom from interference in expressing our more