"To Be Or Not To Be"

Karina G's picture

 

“To Be or Not To Be”
The phrase “To be or not to be” originally said by Hamlet in the famous play with the same name written by William Shakespeare, is the title of the book I choose for this assignment. The book reflects on modern bioethical choices faced by scientist, patients, lawmakers, politicians and regular people like you and me. At the beginning of the book the author starts by stating that he attempted to write his work with an unbiased opinion trying to isolate emotion from rational thinking. The book describes several situations where ethics become a line hard to define; each section explains an issue by laying down facts, procedures and terminology, once that is established the author presents you with a scenario that describes a difficult situation along with the different possible choices he tells you, the ethical choice and also explains why it was chosen.
Abortion
 According to the first chapter of the book abortion is unethical because it interrupts and extinguish a life that if untouched has the potential in becoming a full adult with absolute rights. Since the moment an egg is fertilized with a spermatozoid, it becomes a potential human; therefore it shall not intentionally be killed. An argument the author makes in response to the prochoice supporters allegations is that a woman’s has the right to decide over her body. It begins with a very technical introduction describing what is considered her body. A liver, lung, and stomach to name a few are parts that are meant to stay inside her throughout the course of her life, a fetus although it absolutely depends on her body is not part of it, because at some point following the course of the last stage of pregnancy which is birth, the fetus will abandon it. I always believed that was the case but taking the emotions apart I can see it from another perspective.
Infertility
There are many couples struggling to have kids of their own and there is where many methods are used to help them conceive. The controversy here is that in order to increase the possibilities of getting pregnant many fertility clinics practice procedures of artificial fertilization or in vitro. These procedures provide a drug so the ovaries enter a state of overdrive and produce, instead of one, several eggs. These eggs are all fertilized when in fact only one will be allowed to develop; putting a stop in the development of the others creates unethical situations.
Human Cloning
This is another hot topic that since 1997 has been widely discussed. With the announcement of a successful sheep cloning from an adult cell, the question whether if it was possible to clone a human by using the same way created big debate. According to the book it is unethical. The procedure that is used tampers with the cell and can have long term effects in many generations down. At some point the author tries to describe an unnatural scenario of cloning but it gets so confusing that he had to add the following disclaimer: Language is not adequate to clearly describe this phenomenon.  I find that surprising specially coming from a book that is supposed to be descriptive and partial.
 
This book was published in 1999 so I had some expectations of the point of view the author was going to take regarding the issues. I was surprised to find many references to the ideal environment for the growth of a child is described as a marriage filled with love and commitment. This makes me think that the author has failed in his attempt of being bias or that is just simply a reflection of the perception of a stable relationship in those times. Especially when today I see so many cases of single mothers and unmarried couples with children.
At some point the author tries to describe an unnatural scenario of cloning but it gets so confusing that he had to add the following disclaimer: Language is not adequate to clearly describe this phenomenon.  I find that surprising specially coming from a book that is supposed to be descriptive and partial.
This book has given me the grounds to determine ethics; it has introduced me to the technicality of the issues described in this paper. His analysis relies on cold rational thinking without any emotions. That makes me think that we can not really apply all of his conclusions since those were derived from a robotic like thinking. I think that in order to make the most asserted decision we must take in account both sides, rational and emotional.
 
 
 
 
 
References
 
Donald V. Paone. “To Be or not To Be (Reflections in modern bioethical choices)”
Blue Skies Press : Lynbrook New York: 1999
 
 

Comments

Paul Grobstein's picture

ethics and rationality

"in order to make the most asserted decision we must take in account both sides, rational and emotional"

There's a strong argument along these lines in Antonio Damasio's Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain.   And an interesting extension to morality/ethics in Jonathan Haidt's "The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail: A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgement."  

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