Monday, December 25, 2006

A review of "The Future of Human Nature"

Germany—even when contrasted with other European countries—has taken a very conservative attitude toward anything that smacks of eugenics (for clear historical reasons), and Habermas has been one of the most prominent voices reminding his countrymen that they cannot and dare not forget the errors of their past. In the three lectures compiled in this recent book he speaks out on some issues that are of great interest to contemporary bioethics, which he sees as related to the history of eugenics. Habermas questions the ethical justification for genetic interventions, embryo research and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

This book consists of a translation of a German essay first published in 2001 by Suhrkamp Verlag in Germany, plus two sections not included in the original German text. A clarifying postscript to the first two chapters was written after presenting the original text to a skeptical audience at a New York University law school colloquium in 2002, and the author also includes his address on the occasion of receiving the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2001. The collection constitutes an important contribution to national and international controversy on current and proposed scientific and medical advances in biomedical research, and will be of interest to any reader of Buchanan, Brock, Daniels and Wickler’s From Chance to Choice or Kass’ Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity."

Read the review in full

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