LIFE CHOICES: Confronting the Life and Death Decisions Created by Modern Medicine by Howard Levine

LIFE CHOICES: Confronting the Life and Death Decisions Created by Modern Medicine

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With credentials in philosophy, Levine tackles the difficult subject of bioethics. Recognizing that the terrain is fraught with legal uncertainty, emotional extremes, and social/political confusion, he nevertheless feels that some order can be brought to decision-making if we recognize tenets and ethics of logic as well as our own fundamental ""in-principle"" beliefs. Toward that, Levine devotes opening pages to a self-questionnaire designed to establish the reader's ""bioethical profile"" on the issues to be examined in subsequent chapters: doctor-patient relationships; allocation of medical resources; issues of life and death; human experimentation, and, finally, genetic interventions and reproductive technologies. He emphasizes that a critical factor in bioethics lies in how we bridge the gap between facts and value judgments and proposes a model for how values might be formed. Levine then moves on to the concrete, examining 54 real or hypothesized case histories. He introduces each chapter with a broad discussion of the technologies which have created the bioethical problems and the concepts he will examine later on. Then--and this may be the book's strongest appeal--he lets the reader be the judge, presenting a set of alternatives as if a case were being heard in court, e.g., in the case of a psychiatric patient threatening to kill his girlfriend should you 1) maintain confidentiality while continuing therapy; 2) warn the police; 3) warn the victim. (In this real instance, the murder was carried out and the California Supreme Court ruled that the victim should have been warned.) There is no question that the case histories presented are compelling. However, some readers may take issue, coming up with alternatives of their own. But the book will have served a useful purpose: not only does it summarize the major headline-making cases of recent years, but it also can trigger conscientious readers into doing their own bioethical homework.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1986
Publisher: Simon & Schuster