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Anger and Forgiveness"Are You There Alone?"10 Good Questions about Life and DeathA Casebook of Ethical Challenges in NeuropsychologyA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to BioethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to GenethicsA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Cooperative SpeciesA Critique of the Moral Defense of VegetarianismA Delicate BalanceA Fragile LifeA Life for a LifeA Life-Centered Approach to BioethicsA Matter of SecurityA Natural History of Human MoralityA Philosophical DiseaseA Practical Guide to Clinical Ethics ConsultingA Question of TrustA Sentimentalist Theory of the MindA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA Tapestry of ValuesA Very Bad WizardA World Without ValuesAction and ResponsibilityAction Theory, Rationality and CompulsionActs of ConscienceAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction NeuroethicsAdvance Directives in Mental HealthAfter HarmAftermathAgainst AutonomyAgainst BioethicsAgainst HealthAgainst Moral ResponsibilityAgency and AnswerabilityAgency and ResponsibilityAgency, 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RetributionFoucault and the Government of DisabilityFoundational Issues in Human Brain MappingFoundations of Forensic Mental Health AssessmentFree WillFree Will And Moral ResponsibilityFree Will and Reactive AttitudesFree Will, Agency, and Meaning in LifeFree?Freedom and ValueFreedom vs. InterventionFriendshipFrom Darwin to HitlerFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Enlightenment to ReceptivityFrom Morality to Mental HealthFrom Silence to VoiceFrom Valuing to ValueFrontiers of JusticeGender in the MirrorGenetic PoliticsGenetic ProspectsGenetic ProspectsGenetics of Original SinGenetics of Original SinGenocide's AftermathGetting RealGluttonyGood WorkGoodness & AdviceGreedGroups in ConflictGrowing Up GirlGut FeminismHabilitation, Health, and AgencyHandbook for Health Care Ethics CommitteesHandbook of BioethicsHandbook of Children's RightsHandbook of PsychopathyHappinessHappiness and the Good LifeHappiness Is OverratedHard FeelingsHard LuckHardwired BehaviorHarmful ThoughtsHeal & ForgiveHealing 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War and LawOn ApologyOn Being AuthenticOn EvilOn Human RightsOn The Stigma Of Mental IllnessOn the TakeOn Virtue EthicsOn What MattersOn What We Owe to Each OtherOne ChildOne Nation Under TherapyOne World NowOne World NowOur Bodies, Whose Property?Our Bodies, Whose Property?Our Daily MedsOur Faithfulness to the PastOur Posthuman FutureOut of EdenOut of Its MindOut of the ShadowsOverdosed AmericaOxford Handbook of Psychiatric EthicsOxford Textbook of Philosophy of PsychiatryPassionate DeliberationPatient Autonomy and the Ethics of ResponsibilityPC, M.D.Perfecting VirtuePersonal AutonomyPersonal Autonomy in SocietyPersonal Identity and EthicsPersonalities on the PlatePersonhood and Health CarePersons, Humanity, and the Definition of DeathPerspectives On Health And Human RightsPharmacracyPharmageddonPhilosophy and This Actual WorldPhilosophy of BiologyPhilosophy of Technology: The Technological ConditionPhysician-Assisted DyingPicturing DisabilityPilgrim at Tinker CreekPlaying God?Playing God?Political EmotionsPornlandPowerful MedicinesPractical Autonomy and BioethicsPractical EthicsPractical Ethics for PsychologistsPractical RulesPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic BioethicsPragmatic NeuroethicsPraise and BlamePreferences and Well-BeingPrimates and PhilosophersPro-Life, Pro-ChoiceProcreation and ParenthoodProfits Before People?Progress in BioethicsProperty in the BodyProzac As a Way of LifeProzac on the CouchPsychiatric Aspects of Justification, Excuse and Mitigation in Anglo-American Criminal Law Psychiatric EthicsPsychiatry and EmpirePsychological Concepts and Biological PsychiatryPsychology and Consumer CulturePsychology and LawPsychotropic Drug Prescriber's Survival GuidePublic Health LawPublic Health Law and EthicsPublic PhilosophyPunishing the Mentally IllPunishmentPursuits of WisdomPutting Morality Back Into PoliticsPutting on VirtueQuality of Life and Human DifferenceRaceRadical HopeRadical VirtuesRape Is RapeRe-creating MedicineRe-Engineering Philosophy for Limited 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SeriouslyTaming the Troublesome ChildTechnology and the Good Life?TestimonyText and Materials on International Human RightsThe Aims of Higher EducationThe Almost MoonThe Altruistic BrainThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Forensic PsychiatryThe Animal ManifestoThe Animals' AgendaThe Art of LivingThe Autonomy of MoralityThe Beloved SelfThe Best Things in LifeThe Big FixThe Bioethics ReaderThe Biology and Psychology of Moral AgencyThe Blackwell Guide to Medical EthicsThe Body SilentThe BondThe Book of LifeThe Burden of SympathyThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Companion to Virtue EthicsThe Cambridge Textbook of BioethicsThe Case against Assisted SuicideThe Case Against PerfectionThe Case Against PunishmentThe Case for PerfectionThe Case of Terri SchiavoThe Challenge of Human RightsThe Code for Global EthicsThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe Common ThreadThe Connected SelfThe Constitution of AgencyThe Creation of 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Origins of FairnessThe Oxford Handbook of Animal EthicsThe Oxford Handbook of Ethics at the End of LifeThe Perfect BabyThe Philosophy of NeedThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of PsychiatryThe Politics Of LustThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Power of Religion in the Public SphereThe Price of PerfectionThe Price of TruthThe Problem of PunishmentThe Prosthetic ImpulseThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe Psychology of Good and EvilThe PsychopathThe Purity MythThe Pursuit of PerfectionThe Relevance of Philosophy to LifeThe Right Road to Radical FreedomThe Right to Be ParentsThe Righteous MindThe Root of All EvilThe Rules of InsanityThe Second SexismThe Second-Person StandpointThe Silent World of Doctor and PatientThe Sleep of ReasonThe Social Psychology of Good and EvilThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Social Psychology of MoralityThe Speed of DarkThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Stem Cell ControversyThe Story of Cruel and UnusualThe Story WithinThe Stubborn 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ScienceUnderstanding AbortionUnderstanding CloningUnderstanding EmotionsUnderstanding EvilUnderstanding Kant's EthicsUnderstanding Moral ObligationUnderstanding Physician-Pharmaceutical Industry InteractionsUnderstanding TerrorismUnderstanding the GenomeUnderstanding the Stigma of Mental IllnessUnderstanding Treatment Without ConsentUnhingedUnprincipled VirtueUnsanctifying Human Life: Essays on EthicsUnspeakable Acts, Ordinary PeopleUp in FlamesUpheavals of ThoughtUsers and Abusers of PsychiatryValue-Free Science?Values and Psychiatric DiagnosisValues in ConflictVegetarianismViolence and Mental DisorderVirtue EthicsVirtue, Rules, and JusticeVirtue, Vice, and PersonalityVirtues and Their VicesVulnerability, Autonomy, and Applied EthicsWar Against the WeakWar, Torture and TerrorismWarrior's DishonourWeaknessWelfare and Rational CareWhat Genes Can't DoWhat Have We DoneWhat Is a Human?What Is Good and WhyWhat Is Good and WhyWhat Is the Good Life?What Price Better Health?What Should I Do?What We Owe to Each OtherWhat Would Aristotle Do?What's Good on TVWhat's Normal?What's Wrong with Children's RightsWhat's Wrong with Homosexuality?What's Wrong With Morality?When Is Discrimination Wrong?Who Holds the Moral High Ground?Who Owns YouWho Qualifies for Rights?Whose America?Whose View of Life?Why Animals MatterWhy Animals MatterWhy I Burned My Book and Other Essays on DisabilityWhy Not Kill Them All?Why Punish? How Much?Why Some Things Should Not Be for SaleWisdom, Intuition and EthicsWithout ConscienceWomen and Borderline Personality DisorderWomen and MadnessWondergenesWould You Kill the Fat Man?Wrestling with Behavioral GeneticsWriting About PatientsYou Must Be DreamingYour Genetic DestinyYour Inner FishYouth Offending and Youth Justice Yuck!
What, if anything, does science have to contribute to morality? Is it ever worth the effort to look to science in our search for answers to moral dilemmas? The goal of this anthology is not only to give affirmative answers to these questions, but to explain how and why. This is done from a secular humanist perspective; the editor, Paul Kurtz, is the founder and chairman of the Council for Secular Humanism, and many of the authors write as humanists as well. Several of the papers in the book have previously appeared in Free Inquiry, a bi-monthly publication of the Council for Secular Humanism edited by Kurtz. The book covers a variety of issues, ranging from accounts of biological processes to abstract philosophical arguments. While most of the contributors are philosophers, some of the papers are written by scientists who offer their insights.
The questions raised in the beginning can be understood in different ways and answered accordingly. One way to construe them is to ask whether science can give us useful information on which to base our moral decisions. If informed moral decisions are better than uninformed, and if science does yield information, it seems inevitable that the answer is yes for the relevant cases. The bulk of the first six sections of the book is dedicated to illustrating this.
Sections I and II are about bioethics and stem cell research. The papers by Ronald A. Lindsay, David J. Triggle, Berit Brogaard, and Richard T. & Elain M. Hull, can all be construed as support for allowing stem cell research. Lindsay and Triggle both present arguments with that aim, and Brogaard gives an account of the so-called twinning argument which is directed at one particular objection to stem cell research. Hull & Hull give a scientific overview of the process from fertilization to blastocyst and argue that the scientific evidence is in favor of stem cell research. The only dissenter is Don Marquis who presents an argument from a secular perspective against stem cell research. While Marin Gillis does not take a side in the matter of whether stem cell research is justified, she argues that counter to what is commonly held, a woman's autonomy over her body is relevant to stem cell research, just as it is to abortion. There is also a short interview with Arthur Caplan about the main issues in bioethics. Caplan expresses support for therapeutic cloning as well as several forms of genetic research. Paul Kurtz's contribution to this part of the book is to make a case for the freedom of scientific research. His discussion is of science in general and does not cover genetic research specifically.
Section III, Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, contains two papers. In the first, Kurtz discusses euthanasia in the context of personal autonomy and the right to privacy and defends some forms of it as a legitimate personal choice of the patient. In the second paper, John Shook criticizes the terminological distinctions widely adopted regarding euthanasia and suggests some different terms. He goes through AMA's stand on euthanasia in which passive euthanasia is accepted while active euthanasia is denounced and argues that it is inconsistent.
The fourth section is entitled "Organ transplants, sexuality, and human enhancement" and as the title suggests it covers quite a wide topic range. James Stacey Taylor argues that the Argument from Economic Coercion, a central argument against organ sales, is unsuccessful. He concludes that kidney markets should be allowed. Vern L. Bullough covers a list of topics within the realm of sex and gender, such as circumcision, children born with ambiguous genitalia, transsexual surgery, and contraception, and explains how they create problems to which medical ethics applies. And James Hughes argues that the spirit of humanism entails that it is personhood, and not biological humanness, that counts in moral matters.
Section V is dedicated to capital punishment. Richard Taylor writes in opposition to the death penalty and to the more general "getting tough on crime" approach. He suggests some alternative stragies for dealing with criminals that he finds more promising. Ted Goertzel criticizes the use of econometrics in assessing the relation of murder rate to capital punishment and argues that what research really shows is that capital punishment has not deterred homicide.
Section VI, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, begins with an exchange between Thomas Szasz and Derek Bolton about the reality of mental illness. Szasz, known for his views about mental illness being a myth, argues that secular humanism is incompatible with psychiatry. As Bolton points out in his response, the root can be found in Szasz's definition of humanism as a rejection of authoritarianism and his definition of psychiatry, according to which psychiatry involves coercion. Given these definitions, the conclusion follows. However, Bolton expresses doubts about the definitions and argues that things are more complex. Scott O. Lilienfeld makes the claim that there is insufficient connection between mental health practice and the underlying scienctific research and that as a result, mental health practitioners are prone to adopting pseudo-scientific treatment methods. Barry L. Beyerstein argues in a similar vein in his discussion of fringe psychotherapies.
In the last third of the book, the question posed at the beginning is addressed from another point of view. The question is now whether science and morality belong to separate realms. Are they unrelated phenomena? Can we ever derive moral knowledge from facts? If values do not have a religious basis and there is nothing but the natural world, then where do values fit in?
In sections VII and VIII, entitled "Science, Religion, and Ethics" and "Naturalistic Ethics", Stephen Jay Gould's idea of nonoverlapping magisteria (NOMA) is much discussed. According to Gould's idea, science is a magisterium that covers the empirical while religion forms another magisterium covering matters of meaning and value. The two magisteria do not overlap. In his paper, Fred Wilson adopts a modified version of Gouldn's NOMA; one with a magisterium of science and magisterium of value but no place for religion. The paper by Christopher diCarlo and John Teehan, as well as Kurtz's paper on this topic, suggests, on the other hand, that there is a connection between science and morality. Kurtz considers Gould's division misguided. Kurtz rejects religion, and thinks values belong with science in the natural sphere, all there is. DiCarlo and Teehan do not address religion specifically but argue for a strong connection between science and moral values. Laura Purdy argues on a related note that ethics is a matter for scientific exploration; she proposes a scientific ethics. Similarly, William A. Rottshaefer makes a case for a scientific naturalistic ethics.
Tom Flynn's topic is standards for justification of ethical judgments. He argues that we should go along with the view of William Clifford, that a belief without evidence is not justified. This should hold for ethical beliefs as well.
In the ninth and final section, Donald B. Calne argues that science and morality share the same evolutionary origins and that they should not be considered separate and independent from each other. David R. Koepsell discusses the methodology proposed in the works of Carl Menger and his heritage as a potential basis for social sciences. And, finally, Susan Haack explores attitudes to science and the ideal approach to finding a balanced way between the scientistic and the antiscientific.
Science and Ethics succeeds in giving the reader a good overview of a fairly wide range of issues where science is relevant to morality. This wide-ranging view does, however, come at the cost of depth; most of the papers (with a couple of exceptions) are much too short for the construction of a probing philosophical argument. The quality of the selected papers is somewhat uneven. Some of the authors present their positions convincingly and well supported by arguments (given the forementioned space limitations) while others seem less concerned with evidential support.
The book shows some signs of having been rushed through publication. There is no index of key terms at the end. In one of the papers, by Goertzel, there are a few graphs to which the text refers in as fig. 1, 2, and 3. The problem is that close scrutiny is required in order to understand which figure is which as they are not labeled, and do not appear in the order corresponding to the numbers.
The conclusion is that while this book is in some respects lacking, it is well worth a look for someone who wishes to get acquainted with this highly important topic.
© 2007 Eyja M. Brynjarsdóttir
Eyja M. Brynjarsdóttir, Ph.D., University of Iceland
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