Rethinking Life and Death
OverviewRethinking Life and Death is a book that only the distinguished philosopher Peter Singer could write - a book that creates nothing less than a new set of ethics for the next century. Singer shows just why our traditional ethic of life and death is collapsing all around us - but instead of lamenting the fact, as traditional moralists do, he sees it as an opportunity to move forward to a more soundly based approach. In discussing themes like euthanasia, brain death, abortion, and the treatment of patients in a persistent vegetative state, Singer boldly discards the old rhetoric and meaningless cliches about the sanctity of human life. Instead he produces a fresh account of when life should be regarded as precious and worth preserving, and when it should not be. Using provocative case studies, Singer vividly describes the break-up of our current ethic of life and death. He asks penetrating questions like: What are the results of the classic Dutch experiment with voluntary euthanasia? What are its implications for the future and will a similar system work in the United States? Is the definition of death in terms of "brain death" a medical judgment? Or is it an ethical choice based on our need for organs and the emotional and financial futility of keeping human beings in this state alive? Why do we consider it wrong to take organs from a baby born without a brain, but acceptable to take them from an ape? Is it really possible to defend abortion on the grounds of "choice" or do we have to make up our minds first about the status of the fetus and whether it has rights in the first place? With Rethinking Life and Death, Peter Singer describes a world that has already begun to be revolutionizedby twenty-first-century technology, and in doing so, provides us all with a profound reexamination of the ethics that govern how we live and how we die.
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