Thursday, May 12, 2005

Bioethics and literature

"From Kevorkian to Schiavo, cloning to antidepressants, issues of bioethics increasingly underlie controversies that dominate public and political discussion. Decisions about stem-cell research, end-of-life choices, organ transplantation, and mind-and body-enhancing drugs, among others, have become flash points for front-page news day after day. At the same time, some good literary narratives have emerged over the past few years that reveal our common yet deeply individual struggles to find an ethics commensurate with rapid advances in the new science and technologies."

Martha Montello, chairwoman of the pediatric-ethics committee at the University of Kansas Medical Center as well as a professor of literature, thinks scientists and lawmakers ought to read more fiction and poetry. In the Chronicle, she discusses several works that probe bioethics issues:

(ones I've read)
Doris Betts' Souls Raised from the Dead
Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go
Walker Percy's The Thanatos Syndrome

(ones I haven't)
Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake
Caryl Churchill's A Number
Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper

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