PRF-MEDITATED MAN: Bioethics and the Control of Future Human Life by Richard M. Restak

PRF-MEDITATED MAN: Bioethics and the Control of Future Human Life

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The ""bioethics"" Restak describes is less a discrete discipline than a series of questions raised by recent advances in medicine and biology: when is psychosurgery justifiable? what are the legal ramifications of genetic engineering? what sorts of experiments can be performed on human beings? Answers to these questions, says the author, are of paramount importance, for the biological sciences increasingly control not merely nature but man himself. Some of the abuses of scientific inquiry which the author (who is a neurosurgeon) recounts are frightful: lobotomy in the name of law and order; a Pavlovian conditioning of criminals that is straight out of Clockwork Orange,' and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments in which several hundred black men were given a placebo ""treatment"" for the disease so researchers could observe its progress toward madness and death. In some cases, particularly in the area of genetic engineering, the abuse is as yet only potential, but here, too, there are ethical and legal questions which Restak squarely faces. It is now possible for an ovum to be taken from a woman, fertilized in a test tube, and then implanted in another woman for gestation. Query: which woman is the mother? To prevent future violations of human freedom and to resolve such questions, Restak recommends that biological and medical research be controlled by a lay bureaucracy--a possible solution, but one that is likely to kill inquiry. If Restak is sometimes shrill, he has reason to be, and if some of his material is familiar, it deserves reconsideration.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1975
Publisher: Viking