Cover image for Encyclopedia of bioethics
Title:
Encyclopedia of bioethics
Author:
Reich, Warren T.
Physical Description:
4 volumes ; 29 cm
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780029260609
Format :
Book

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QH332 .E52 V.1 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
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On Order

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The Encyclopedia of Bioethics on CD-ROM contains the full text of the second edition of the five-volume print set [RBB Ag 95], including appendixes and all introductory material. For added value, the CD-ROM also contains the National Library of Medicine's Bioethicsline, a bibliography of articles published since 1974. A manual accompanies the disc with instructions for installing on computers running Windows 3.1 or 95, DOS, or Macintosh. We used Windows 3.1 instructions, which were easy to follow. The search software used is the same as that for The Encyclopedia of Religion on CD-ROM [RBB O 1 96]. The main menu offers a choice of searching a hypertext table of contents, which is arranged alphabetically, a synoptic outline, or the Bioethicsline database. The synoptic outline begins with a broad list of subject headings, a feature not found in the print volumes. Double-clicking on a heading in this list jumps to a list broken down by subtopics (e.g., Genetic Counseling--Ethical Issues). Green text throughout the encyclopedia indicates hypertext links to related entries. In the bibliography, green links lead back to the encyclopedia text, and purple links lead to related entries in the bibliography itself. Pull-down menus across the top of each screen allow access to functions such as printing and saving text, tagging records, and highlighting text for output. A toolbelt down the left side of the screen offers many of the same functions as the pull-down menus. Boolean searching is supported with a list of query options that must be studied carefully by the user in order to take full advantage of them. There are three different truncation symbols and two proximity operators. One very nice feature is the use of a $ sign at the end of a word to produce synonyms: death$ produced at least seven. The toolbelt also allows the user to backtrack through previous searches and open the table of contents. If readers elect to use the table of contents from the toolbelt, they can choose levels of detail by pulling down a menu and selecting more specific headings that appear to correspond to chapters and paragraph headings in the print work. It is also possible to expand a single heading by pulling down the search menu and to view the number of hits at each level, which allows the user to choose the most relevant. This is fairly sophisticated software for the uninitiated; however, users can read the encyclopedia from cover to cover by simply scrolling through it on the first screen. Wherever a link appears, the user can elect to move more closely into the text. There is a pull-down menu for help, and the manual offers troubleshooting tips and a step-by-step guide to the database. The technical support telephone number and e-mail address appear on every page. Libraries that recently bought the new edition of The Encyclopedia of Bioethics may find that the print set serves their users adequately. However, the ability to do sophisticated keyword searches on such a large database makes the CD-ROM version valuable to serious bioethics researchers. The Bioethicsline database is definitely a valuable addition to the database. The Encyclopedia of Bioethics won the Darmouth Medal when it was originally published, and the revised edition won an honorable mention this year. Academic, medical, and large public libraries should definitely have this excellent encyclopedia in one format or the other.


Choice Review

The original edition of this encyclopedia (CH, Nov'79) was the first work to synthesize, analyze, and compare the major positions of a complex field still in its infancy. Received with great enthusiasm at its publication, it set the standard for discussion and study of challenging issues relating to life, death, health, and basic human values. When the editor began in the 1980s to contemplate a new edition, he solicited input from hundreds of scholars regarding the need for and extent of revision that would be required. He concluded that an updated version was not simply desirable but would be crucial to the future of the field: scarcely a single topic in the first edition had been unaffected by profound changes not only in science, technology, and ethics but in the ways in which moral problems are perceived. The resulting revision is a "fresh, new work" that surpasses the extraordinary model of its predecessor. Lengthy entries (many extend to dozens of pages) are arranged alphabetically in five volumes. To provide an interdisciplinary viewpoint, most entries consist of several articles, each an original, signed contribution. In comparison to the first edition, the contents have increased from 315 articles by 285 contributors to 464 articles by 437 contributors. These scholars represent every continent and many disciplines: ethics, biology, health professions, theology, sociology, feminist scholarship, demography, anthropology, language, literature, policy science, etc. The intent is to provide a broad historical and international base while also examining current developments. For example, the articles in the entry "Death and Dying: Euthanasia and Sustaining Life" discuss religious, philosophical, and public policy considerations from antiquity through the 20th century, and mention 1994 jury decisions involving Dr. Jack Kevorkian. More than 100 entries are totally new to this edition, including "DNA Typing," "Adoption," "Sustainable Development," "African Religion," "Hazardous Wastes and Toxic Substances," "Disability," "AIDS," "Endangered Species and Biodiversity," and "Abuse, Interpersonal." Some topics whose emphasis is expanded from the first edition include animal welfare and rights, environmental issues, organ and tissue transplantation, sexuality and gender, fertility and human reproduction, and population ethics. Throughout the encyclopedia, the extensive bibliographies for each article include citations as recent as 1994, as well as many older works; the bibliographies, like the articles themselves, have been completely revised. Also entirely revised is the appendix, on "Codes, Oaths, and Directives Related to Bioethics," which offers documentation with brief commentaries. Many directives have been added, including topics not previously covered (e.g., Rio Declaration on Environment and Development). As in the first edition, the language of the text is accessible for educated readers. Numerous see and see also references, plus an excellent subject index, enhance the work's usability. Even if they own the first edition, academic and large public libraries should definitely purchase the revised Encyclopedia of Bioethics. Like its predecessor, it will retain its research value for many years to come. L. N. Pander; Bowdoin College