Observing Bioethics

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9780195365559: Observing Bioethics
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Observing Bioethics examines the history of bioethics as a discipline related not only to modern biology, medicine, and biotechnology, but also to the core values and beliefs of American society and its courts, legislatures, and media. The book is written from the perspective of two social scientists--a sociologist of medicine(Renee C. Fox) and a historian of medicine (Judith P. Swazey)--who have participated in bioethics since the emergence of this multidisciplinary field more than 30 years ago.

Fox and Swazey draw on first-hand observations and experiences in a variety of American bioethical settings; face-to-face interviews with first- and second-generation figures in the genesis and early unfolding of bioethics; a detailed examination of the theatrical media coverage of what was considered to be a banner event in the annals of bioethics (the creation and birth of the cloned sheep, Dolly); case studies of how bioethics has internationally developed; and a large corpus of primary documents and secondary source materials.

While recognizing the intellectual, moral, and sociological importance of American bioethics, Fox and Swazey are critical of its characteristics. Foremost among these are what they identify as the problems of thinking socially, culturally, and internationally in American bioethics; the 'tenuous interdisciplinarity' of the field; and the troubling extent to which the 'culture wars' have penetrated bioethics.

This book will appeal to a wide range of doctors, scientists, and academics who are involved in the history and sociology of bioethics.

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About the Author:

RenEe C. Fox is Annenberg Professor Emerita of the Social Sciences and emerita senior fellow of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of numerous books.



Judith Swazey is an independent scholar and an adjunct professor of social and behavioral sciences at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Her many works include Merger Games and The Courage to Fail.

Review:


"Fox and Swazey's book is truly about "Celebrating the 'Birth of Bioethics' and Its 'Pioneers.'" It is well constructed, informative, and a fine contribution to bioethics." --Nursing History Review


"A powerful and persuasive exploration of the rise of bioethics from a socio-cultural perspective that focuses on its inherent Americanness and culminates in its inevitable but potentially lethal attempted appropriation by American politics. The uniqueness of the book is its primary reliance on the authors' insights as participant-observer ethnographers at salient points in the brief history of American bioethics. Exceptional, insightful, and a delight to read."--George J. Annas, Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights, Boston University School of Public Health, author of American Bioethics


"This is a fine and important book, a much needed contribution to the field of bioethics. It offers the first systematic and sociological analysis of the development of the enterprise of bioethics, offering a critical look at why and how bioethics came to be."--Raymond De Vries, Associate Professor of Bioethics/Medical Education, University of Michigan School of Medicine


"Renée Fox and Judith Swazey are at the very top of the list in following and assessing the development of the field of bioethics. This book is full of acute observations, interesting and different perspectives, and offers many challenges to the field. It is a book well worth reading, for those in the field and for those curious about it."--Daniel Callahan, Director, International Program, The Hastings Center


"This insightful book adds depth to the literature on the history of bioethics and delivers important and sometimes controversial insights about contemporary bioethics. It provides a much needed look at a field that has grown dramatically in only a few decades but that many see as lacking a defined scope and purpose."--Doody's


"Educational, enlightening, and a look into the future of biology and what it could bring, both technologically and ethically in coming years. All this makes Observing Bioethics worthwhile reading..."--The Midwest Book Review


"Fascinating...What could have jsut been a book made of parts and pieces elegantly reframed in an ethnographic style is instead a deep reflection about the future challenges of bioethics."--As reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine


"American bioethics was born out of a desire to be relevant. The philosopher Daniel Callahan has said that he and his colleagues founded the Hastings Center...in 1969 because they wanted to give philosophy "some social bite, some relevance." Whether bioethics has achieved its goal is the urgent question at the core of this useful book, co-authored by Renée C. Fox, a highly distinguished sociologist, and Judith P. Swazey, a respected historian of medicine. Between them, Fox and Swazey have spent many decades as participant observers in the house of medicine. Their intensive involvement with physicians, theologians, and philosophers has given them ringside seats to the development of modern bioethics. Through enjoyable interviews with major figures in the field and a rich trove of personal observations, the book perceptively...chronicles the growth of bioethics as a profession."--Sally Satel, as reviewed in The New Republic


"This book is impressive in a number of respects. The level of detail and the effort to combine observation and personal reflection is unusual in writings in this field which, as the authors note, is characterized by its narrowness of perspective and absence of self-reflection...At a time of growing questioning of key premises of the field, especially by sociologists, feminists, and disability scholars, this book offers a valuable resource. Produced by two very well-known and longtime contributors to the social study of bioethics, this book will be of interest to philosophers, bioethicists, social scientists, biomedical scientists, clinicians, and teachers and scholars in the health sciences and medical humanities."--American Journal of Sociology


"Between them, Fox and Swazey have spent many decades as participant observers in the house of medicine. Their intensive involvement with physicians, theologians, and philosophers has given them ringside seats to the development of modern bioethics. Through enjoyable interviews with major figures in the field and a rich trove of personal observations, the book perceptively, if densely, chronicles the growth of bioethics as a profession. " --The New Republic


"...if you are a philosopher doing or considering interdisciplinary work in bioethics, this
is an interesting book to read for its non-philosophical perspectives. It does a good job of
setting out some of the kinds of issues that (will) come up. Philosophers are (in)famous
for drawing lots of distinctions. This book shows why that is necessary, and what can
happen when they are not drawn carefully. But this book is also a valuable history of the
study and practice of bioethics." --Philosophy in Review


"Philosophers are (in) famous for drawing lots of distinctions. This book shows why that is necessary, and what can happen when they are not drawn carefully. But this book is also a valuable history of the study and practice of bioethics." --Philosophy in Review


"This book is impressive in a number of respects...this book offers a valuable resource...Produced by two very well-known and longtime contributors to the social study of bioethics, this book will be of interest to philosophers, bioethicists, social scientists, clinicians, and teachers and scholars in the health sciences and medical humanities." --American Journal of Sociology


"While this is a book of considerable interest for those working in the subfield of the sociology of (or in) bioethics, it may be too specialized for many medical sociologists...Fortunately, the book is written in a molular way that allows the chapters to stand well on their own for readers to select the topics that most interest them." --Contemporary Sociology


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