Stuck in the Middle
Smith, David H., The Hastings Center Report
I have always been embarrassed at being boringly centrist. On my bad days I have felt lacking in testosterone or intestinal fortitude. Many of my closest professional friends seem clearer in their minds than I feel. I pretend I'm Leon Kass, former chair of the President's Council on Bioethics, when I teach Jim Childress, a distinguished professor at the University of Virginia and thoughtful defender of autonomy and respect for persons--and vice versa. I want to have it not just both ways, but all ways. This is not a comfortable position. Judith Berling, an old friend and scholar of Chinese religion, grew up in Iowa. She used to say that she had one foot in Tokyo and the other in Dubuque--and that it was a reach, and left her vulnerable. So it is, and it's a vulnerability to which I can relate.
To give myself a little credit, I know some of the reasons I take refuge in the middle. One is the unfortunate demonizing and labeling that goes on in the politically crisper factions. For example, Kass's "The Wisdom of Repugnance," an essay on cloning published in The New Republic a few years before he took the helm of the President's Council, is often characterized as if it were a simple appeal to gut feeling, when even a casual reading will show it is not. One may disagree with the substance of Kass's arguments, but they should be taken on in the good faith in which they were advanced. Similarly, critics …
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Publication information: Article title: Stuck in the Middle. Contributors: Smith, David H. - Author. Journal title: The Hastings Center Report. Volume: 36. Issue: 1 Publication date: January-February 2006. Page number: 32+. © 1999 Hastings Center. COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group.
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