A CONSUMER'S GUIDE TO A BRAVE NEW WORLD

Wesley J. Smith, Author . Encounter $25.95 (219p) ISBN 978-1-893554-99-3

Ever since the cloning of Dolly in 1997, critics have warned that human society has begun sliding down the slippery slope to posthumanity. In a rather repetitious and bland look at the moral questions arising out of biotechnologies such as cloning and stem cell technology, Smith (The Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America ) does offer some helpful insight into the practices themselves. Much like Leon Kass, the chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, and Francis Fukuyama (Our Posthuman Future ), Smith argues that any medical or scientific development that diminishes human dignity—"the intrinsic worthiness of embodied human life"—ought to be avoided, regardless of the good it promises. Smith contends that the technologies are not in and of themselves pernicious; rather, the political, ideological and entrepreneurial promotion of any scientific advance, he asserts, can lead us to ignore its dangers (for instance, producing a hybrid pig-human embryo). Smith opposes human reproductive cloning and embryonic stem cell technology. On the other hand, he argues that some advances, such as adult stem cell technology and umbilical cord blood/stem cell technology (which has been used to treat sickle-cell anemia), should be embraced. Along the way, Smith makes some mistakes—Joseph Fletcher, for example, is not the "patriarch of bioethics"—and his case has been stated better and more forcefully by others, notably Kass. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 219 pages - 978-1-59403-492-3
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