Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Global Bioethics: The Collapse of Consensus

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Global Bioethics: The Collapse of Consensus

Article excerpt

GLOBAL BIOETHICS: THE COLLAPSE OF CONSENSUS edited by H. Tristram Englehardt Jr. M&M Scrivener Pnss, 416 pages, $39

In Global Bioethics, H. Tristram Englehardt, one of the originators of what has come to be known as bioethics, has edited an arcane and scholarly book in which he and other internationally notable academics explore the possibility, given today's culturally polyglot world, of achieving a truly "global bioethics."

The tide seems a bit misleading. Considering the contentious nature of the issues with which bioethics grapples-abortion, assisted suicide, human cloning, the proper status of animals, health-care rationing and resource distribution, just to name a few-not to mention the radically differing moral values contesting globally for dominance, it would perhaps take genetically enhanced powers of persuasion to convince anyone that there ever existed a global bioethical consensus that has collapsed.

But never mind. The many authors of the book valiantly search in every philosophical nook and cranny for an overarching value system to which most of the world could ascribe-the best chance, as identified by one author, perhaps being "the human rights agenda of the U.N.'s Universal Declaration on Human Rights. …

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