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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 Mirror Is for ReflectionA Mirror Is for ReflectionA 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 MarriageAgainst Moral 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Challenged ProfessionsEthicsEthicsEthicsEthics and AnimalsEthics and ScienceEthics and the A PrioriEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics and the Metaphysics of MedicineEthics at the CinemaEthics at the End of LifeEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationEthics Done RightEthics ExpertiseEthics for EveryoneEthics for PsychologistsEthics for the New MillenniumEthics in CyberspaceEthics in Everyday PlacesEthics in Health CareEthics In Health Services ManagementEthics in Mental Health ResearchEthics in PracticeEthics in PsychiatryEthics in PsychologyEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingEthics of PsychiatryEthics without OntologyEthics, Culture, and PsychiatryEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEvaluating the Science and Ethics of Research on HumansEvilEvil GenesEvil in Modern ThoughtEvil in Modern ThoughtEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolutionary Ethics and Contemporary BiologyEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolved MoralityExperiments in 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ShadowsOverdosed AmericaOxford Handbook of Psychiatric EthicsOxford Studies in Normative EthicsOxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 7Oxford 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 RightsPharmaceutical FreedomPharmacracyPharmageddonPhilosophy 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 BeingsReason's GriefReasonably ViciousReckoning With HomelessnessReconceiving Medical EthicsRecovery from SchizophreniaRedefining RapeRedesigning HumansReducing the Stigma of Mental IllnessReflections on Ethics and ResponsibilityReflections On How We 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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!
Political theorists have long
regarded themselves as the elite of the profession of political science, and
Mary Shanley's excellent new book supports the claim of political philosophy's
pre-eminence when it comes to dealing with issues of family life. While political theory usually concerns
itself with the great books of the past, starting with ancient Greece, Shanley
demonstrates how a good traditional education leads to special sophistication
when dealing with such contested issues concerned with what modern reproductive
technologies can mean for understanding the ethics of family life today. Whereas much public discussion of so-called
family values amounts essentially to partisan ideology in behalf of endorsing
heterosexual, patriarchal family units, Shanley genuinely tries to extend
imaginative feelings about parenthood towards issues that appear novel yet can
be included within the umbrella of humane social theory.
Chapter 1 concerns itself with new
forms of family relationships occasioned by open adoption that extends beyond
ethnic and racial lines. Shanley
proceeds from the moral premise that we should recognize the legitimate
existence of different kinds of families in which parents and children are not
genetically related, and also that "we cannot avoid judgments and policy
choices that will favor one side or the other..." (p. 14).
Shanley is in particular sensitive to the ramifications that legal
thinking and the conclusions of courts have entailed. Children are not properly anybody's "possession," and
Shanley proposes that at an appropriate entrance into adulthood those who have
been adopted be entitled to learn about their biological origins. Chapter 2 continues with the subject of
adoption, focusing on the rights of men and women, as well as the needs of
children. Shanley rightly insists that what
constitutes a family deserving of the state's protection is a matter of
considered argument, and not something self-evidently defined either by
"nature" or customary family law.
Chapter 3 deals with the vexed
issue of the buying and selling of eggs and sperm. Artificial insemination, now called "alternative
insemination by donor," has been around for about half a century, and egg
transfer became more possible after the first successful in vitro fertilization
in 1978. Shanley calls for both an end
to anonymity as well as the abolition of open-market buying and selling. Shanley insists that "truth is better
than either falsehood or obfuscation, and openness is better than
Chapter 4 takes up the matter of
so-called surrogate motherhood, and the limits of contractual freedom. Shanley believes that any such contracts
should not be legally enforceable, and that payments for gestational services
(beyond expenses) should be prohibited.
Shanley is worried that economic necessities might lead to such
contracts reinforcing pre-existing racial and class privileges. Shanley cites the emotional momentousness of
the whole experience of pregnancy, as well as the danger that women's bodies
might become commodified by such transactions.
Chapter 5 deals with the issue of lesbian co-mothers, sperm donors, and
the place of fathers. Shanley raises
the problem of what gives anyone the right to be recognized as a legal parent,
and proposes that placing the child at the center of analysis leads to better
thinking about all parent-child relationships.
Shanley has admirably succeeded in
exploring various nontraditional family situations, as she searches for
"an ethical grounding for a pluralistic vision of family that suffers from
neither the male-centered and heterosexual norms of the traditional model nor
the overly individualistic and voluntaristic norms of some proponents of
diversity" (p. 148). Although Shanley seems to me at least to be
middle-of-the-road in the ethical principles she advances, I do wonder whether
in her well-meaningness she has not avoided what surely is the most
statistically important issue -- custody disputes between divorcing
parents. Shanley's bibliographical
inclusiveness is impressive, but I wonder whether the ivory tower of academic
life can really have focused on something as exotic as gamete donation or
contract pregnancy without the bread-and-butter of family law, namely the
standards guiding the placing of children after the breakdown of marriage. Also, it seems to me that Shanley assumes
too much the conventional American view that values can be made harmonious, as
opposed to a more European conception that would emphasize the inevitability of
tragedy and conflict. Although Shanley
is aware of the significance of psychoanalytic thinking, she has not quite
absorbed the implication in Freudian thought that, for example, suggests that
motherhood can be at odds with sexuality, and what we achieve in one area has
to be at the expense of other human possibilities. It seems to me also that American family life would be enhanced
if, especially in two-career families, the necessary role of servants were to
be acknowledged. None of these
reservations should detract from our admiring all the Shanley has accomplished
in her model over-view of this most important new subject.
2003 Paul Roazen
Paul Roazen is most recently the
author of Cultural Foundations of Political Psychology (Transaction,
2003) and On the Freud Watch: Public Memoirs(Free Association
Books, 2003), and Professor Emeritus of Social and Political Science, York
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