A Project of Boston College Magazine

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Format: Lecture followed by Q&A
Length: 97


Date: March 12, 2004

Location: McGuinn Hall 121, Boston College

Sponsor(s): Institute for the Study of Politics and Religion

URL: http://frontrow.bc.edu/program/kass/

The information on this page is accurate as of March 2004

Program Notes

By Michelle Baildon
Scholarly Communications Reference Librarian
O'Neill Library, Boston College

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American Journal of Bioethics


In addition to offering abstracts of articles from the journal, this site includes links to various features such as "Bioethics for Beginners," "Bioethics and Cloning," and "Bioethics and Genetics."

Beyond Therapy (Enhancement)


In addition to "Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness"—the October 2003 document from which Kass's lecture is drawn—this site from the President's Council on Bioethics includes transcripts of numerous related discussions, as well as several background papers.

Research Methods Guide: Ethics in Science and Medicine


Dozens of books and links are listed on this research guide, developed by Paul Miller for the Web site of the University of Cambridge Department of History and Philosophy of Science.

Cyborg Citizen


The companion site to Chris Hables Gray's book (about the political implications of the cyborgism) includes essays relating to the book's themes, commentary on chapters, an expanded bibliography, and links to other sites of interest.

"Disgust, Shame, and the Law"


In an interview for the NPR program On Point, philosopher Martha Nussbaum disputes the notion that disgust should shape our moral and legal judgments, specifically challenging Kass's notion of "the wisdom of repugnance." Nussbaum believes that disgust distorts rational judgments and may support bigotry and repression.

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Online Articles

"The Case Against Perfection: What's Wrong with Designer Children, Bionic Athletes, and Genetic Engineering"


In an April 2004 Atlantic Monthly article, Michael J. Sandel argues that the desire for mastery over nature—and human nature—fulfilled by genetic engineering destroys "an appreciation of the gifted character of human powers and achievements." Sandel finds genetic engineering and enhancement to be uncomfortably close to eugenics.

"Biotech Ethics: Modern Man and the Pursuit of Happiness"


Excerpts from a panel discussion about the "Beyond Therapy" report sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute are available on this site. The piece was published in the March 2004 issue of The American Enterprise.

"Ethics Matters"


Sponsored by the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics and CNN Interactive, this biweekly column by Jeffrey P. Kahn, director of the Center for Bioethics, ran from 1998 to 2002.

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Online Texts

"Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness"


The document from which Kass's talk is drawn, an October 2003 report by the President's Council on Bioethics, is available on this site.

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Book Picks

The Pursuit of Perfection: The Promise and Perils of Medical Enhancement

Reframing human shortcomings as treatable maladies has rendered many therapeutic remedies into courses of personal improvement. In this history of 150 years of cures-cum-enhancements, Sheila and David Rothman demonstrate that medical industries have profited greatly—and patients have often suffered—from physicians' confounding of health and perfection.

Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

In quests for improvement through genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotechnology, human beings may leave their very humanity behind, Bill McKibben warns. He urges us to face with restraint technology's promise of manufactured betterment.

The Cyborg Handbook

The "cyborg," or cybernetic organism, is part human and part machine, a person restored or reconfigured by technology. This compilation of essays, short stories, and research documents from cyborg history, edited by Chris Hables Gray, includes pieces by Donna Haraway, Philip K. Dick, and George Annas.

Science, Seeds, and Cyborgs: Biotechnology and the Appropriation of Life

Sociologist Finn Bowring takes on the genetic obsession of molecular biology and biotechnology, criticizing scientists' headlong pursuit of genetic engineering and its potential for the commodification and debasement of human life.

Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age

Chris Hables Gray presents an entertaining and accessible guide to the political and ethical issues and problems people face in cyborg societies, focusing on the implications of prosthetic limbs, artificial organs, performance-enhancing drugs, and other increasingly common body modifications.

Making the Body Beautiful

Sander L. Gilman presents a global history and a cultural theory of aesthetic surgery, tracing practices from seventh-century Alexandria to the Renaissance to the present. According to Gilman, cosmetic surgery fulfills recipients' desire to "pass" as a member of a more privileged or accepted group.

Principles of Biomedical Ethics

This respected textbook by Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress offers a comprehensive introduction to readers with or without clinical training.

Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law


The Princeton University Press provides the first chapter of Martha Nussbaum's recent book, which argues that disgust and shame should play no part in legal and ethical formulations. She believes that such emotions stem from fantasies of purity and invulnerability that deny humanity and that these impulses are detrimental to a liberal and equitable society.