Saturday, 19 October 2013

New journal on ethics of human biotechnology offers free access to online content

In August I highlighted the launch of a new journal, The New Bioethics, which focuses specifically on the interface of technology and the human body.

The first edition contained nine articles, two of which, the editorial by Trevor Stammers and Matt James, and a guest editorial by Aaron Parkhurst, are available free on line.

Abstracts from the second edition are now available and well worth reading.

The first, by CMF Head of Public Policy Philippa Taylor, studies the long- term psycho-social effects of abortion on women using in-depth, face-to-face interviews.

Some women experienced persistent negative reactions to the abortion that remained ongoing for years; others were positive or neutral immediately post-abortion but experienced varying negative reactions some time later. All expressed sadness and/or regret of some sort. 

Fabio Bacchini, for the University of Sassini in Paris, explores themes in Farewell Waltz, a novel by Milan Kundera, which features a doctor from a female infertility centre in Czechoslovakia who reveals himself to be a secret promoter of eugenics. Kundera is warning about the trap of only being morally concerned about abstract super-individual entities like ‘humanity’ whilst being unable to have the well-being of single individuals at heart.

Joseph Tham, from the Pontifical University in Rome, analyses the underlying tendencies and attitudes towards reproductive medicine borrowing the Nietzschean concepts of nihilism. He argues that when liberty becomes absolute and technology unchecked, as it is in our postmodern societies, transhumanism is the logical outcome. 

Yasemen Erdin, of St Mary’s University College in Twickenham, returns to Alan Turing’s vigorously debated question of whether machines could think and argues that intelligence is not a guarantee of personhood or agency.

If you want to dig more deeply than the abstracts, but are not sure you want to commit yourself to paying for content, then the publishers are offering free access to the journal between 15-29 November. You can sign up on line.

I note that some of the contributors, and both editors, are committed Christians who are also academics in bioethics.

This journal should be a valuable resource for Christian doctors, ethicists and all who have an interest in this rapidly advancing field, where often the technology is upon us before we have had a chance to think critically about it. 

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