Within its pages, anthropologist Lynn Morgan presents beliefs from various cultures, looking specifically at the idea of "personhood" in different societies. "The practices of personhood are not impersonal or abstract or objective or simply deliberative. They are specific and situated, and they shape us, even as we shape them," she concludes.
In the first of two point-counterpoint discussions, Donald Marquis discusses his widely debated secular argument against abortion while Bonnie Steinbock provides a broad view of the moral status of human embryos, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of several approaches. In the second of the two discussions, James L. Bernat speaks of brain death as the determination of death: a concept and public policy that, Bernat asserts, is both intuitive and well accepted by many societies. James McMahan counters by distinguishing between biological death and when a person ceases to exist.
David DeGrazia addresses President Bush's and the President's Council on Bioethics' stand against cloning by arguing that the pre-conscious fetus lacks the psychological unity that might bind it to its future self. It thus lacks substantial moral status and does not have a right to remain alive.
In the last article of the symposium, George Khushf argues the need to add questions of human value and purpose to public discourse so we may better understand our disagreements. "Because the deep questions of human value and purpose are regarded as 'private' questions in our society, we end up with a truncated, shallow public discourse that never addresses what we are really talking about," Khushf claims.
Media wishing to receive PDFs of the symposium, please contact JournalsNews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.
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Robert M. Sade is the guest editor of this symposium. Dr. Sade is a Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Director of the Institute of Human Values in Health Care at the Medical University of South Carolina and Medical Director of LifePoint (South Carolina's organ procurement agency). He is also Chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Chair of the Standards and Ethics Committee of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and Vice-Chair of the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association. Dr. Sade is available for media questions and interviews.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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