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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Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In 1978, when the highly acclaimed first edition of this encyclopedia appeared in four volumes, bioethics was a new field. Since then the discipline has undergone tremendous change, which is well reflected in this new edition. More than 450 new and updated signed articles cover such topics as Public Health, Population Ethics, and Animal Welfare and Rights. Movements such as Ecofeminism and abstract concepts such as Compassion and Beneficence are treated. International coverage has been strengthened. Essays on medical ethics in many parts of the world are written by authors from those areas or traditions. In addition to the religions treated in the first edition, African Religion, Native American Religion, and Sikhism have been added. Since the first edition was published, such issues as AIDS, DNA typing and the genome project, female circumcision, organ and tissue transplantation, and assisted suicide have arisen. Reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization have been successfully employed. All these subjects are covered at length in this five-volume set. In this edition Interpersonal Abuse replaces child abuse and includes elder and domestic-partner abuse. Substance Abuse is broadened to include alcohol. Some articles from the first edition, such as Talcott Parson's Death in the Western World, have been updated with a postscript article by another author. Of special interest to librarians is the new entry Medical Information Systems. Reich, a professor of bioethics in the School of Medicine at Georgetown University and senior research scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Bioethics, assembled an editorial advisory board of 57 scholars from around the world. They helped select 437 authors from such disciplines as psychology, philosophy, religion, anthropology, law, and history. The work is organized alphabetically; topics are often subdivided into subtopics, with each section written by a different author. Lengthy bibliographies of scholarly and popular materials conclude entries. A detailed index of almost 100 pages, see references, and extensive cross-referencing at the ends of articles provide access. These cross-references appear in descending order of relevance, under the headings "directly related to this entry," "for further discussion of topics mentioned in this entry," and "for a discussion of related ideas." Special features include the section "Additional Resources in Bioethics," which contains directory listings of journals and organizations arranged by country. An appendix, "Codes, Oaths, and Directives Related to Bioethics," has increased from four to six sections; "Ethical Directives Pertaining to the Environment" and ". . . to the Welfare and Use of Animals" are new. Other additions include ethical codes from other countries. By using a wide range of subject experts, the editors have met the challenge of objectivity. Where inevitable conflict of opinion occurs, different viewpoints are presented. For example, the section on male circumcision outlines varying cultural attitudes toward the practice and the medical and ethical issues involved. Language is generally accessible to the layperson; however, due to the variety of authorship, some presentations are more technical than others. The revision is so extensive as to almost make it a new work. It belongs in any library that serves users interested in the wide array of subjects treated. Health-care practitioners, students from high-school through college, and anyone seeking information on bioethics will find a wealth of material in this outstanding reference work. (Reviewed August 1995)


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