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The Body Politic: The Battle Over Science in…
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The Body Politic: The Battle Over Science in America

by Jonathan D. Moreno

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  1. 10
    Defining Right and Wrong in Brain Science: Essential Readings in Neuroethics (Dana Foundation Series on Neuroethics) by Walter Glannon (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: The Glannon volume provides a more in-depth look into some of the issues the Moreno discusses (and some it glosses over).
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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Surprisingly, I found this book to be quite shallow. It seemed to be written in laymen's terms at all costs, including oversimplifying some of the history and science behind technologies like IVF and genetic chimeras. I also found the lit review to be far too lengthy for each issue -- I don't need quotes from Marx and Foucault to understand 20th century eugenics. I also wished for more of his own theories on the matter -- he's a philosopher, after all. I appreciate what Moreno is trying to do, but other books have done a better job of it. ( )
  sparemethecensor | Sep 18, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Not really sure why I requested this book as an ER. It is an interesting topic, and at 184 pages, you won't need to commit to this book. But even at under 200 pages it took me forever to get through this book. It is well-written, but often repetitive and because it's written at such a high level, it nescesrily glosses over much material. After bringing up the first genetically modified fish approved by the FDA in 2010 for consumption by people, there is one sentence about what critics have to say, and the paragraph concludes: "The core here is trust in science and scientists and those who would profit from and regulate the science. Who can have the authority to decide about a future modified-life world? And who should?". The book then moves on without discussing the matter further.

I could see this being used in an introductory-level college course on ethics or the philosophy of science. ( )
  librarianistbooks | Sep 15, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This volume is a rare thing--a book about science, ethics, and the ethics of science that does a very good job of providing a balanced presentation of both sides of the issue (pro-technology vs. pro-status quo) without waving a flag for either. Moreno's presentation is actually so balanced I found myself wishing he'd take more of a stance for one side or the other. It's an odd experience reading a book about so polemical a topic, sans polemics. Moreno does a good job of tracking the debate throughout the centuries, following the main lines of thinking as they respond to each new scientific development. The volume is surprisingly comprehensive for all that it's so slim, and readers looking for a brief, but comprehensive and dense introduction to the subject of biopolitics and bioethics could do far, far worse than this book. That said, if you're looking for someone to take sides and argue either for or against the issue, you're going to come away disappointed--even Moreno's brief foray into the realm of personal opinion in the final chapter is surprisingly measured. Come to this book for the introduction to a complicated, involved topic.
  Trismegistus | Sep 14, 2012 |
I stopped counting after the first five misspells, misplaced, or absent caps, or other editing errors but the more serious limitations of the work are more egregious.

George Soros supplies funds for the Center for American Progress and this volume is clearly drinking the Kool-Aid from that font.
http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=6709

Moreno builds upon Foucault but extends his biological control argument through the rational, bureaucratized welfare state and its domination over its citizens. Religious, as a result, might form the counter to the extended control but Moreno seems oblivious to any positive contribution arising from religious, or ethical spokespersons.

Although Americans generally favor science Moreno posits that it is the religious Americans who are backward and therefore anti-intellectual (p. 17). Of course, he has no academic study or support for making such a generalization: he just states it as a fact. He could balance his bigotry with quoting religious intellectuals, the Christian tradition for example produced an Augustine, or an Aquinas but for the time being we can see where he is going with his slander.
  gmicksmith | Jul 31, 2012 |
Scientists have always been forced to engage in political debates to defend their right to pursue types of research that clash with public policy. The author traces historically the political controversies related to biology in America. He begins by stating a definition of "biopolitics" as advocated by the French philosopher Michael Foucault. How the public "gains control over the life sciences" directly moves the body of research and determines what scientific questions are viewed as important. The author summarizes and discusses how these issues prod biologists to reconsider "safe" pursuits that force them into heated philosophical contests, especially when applied to the prolonging or ending of human life. Although Moreno does an acceptable job introducing general readers to current problems of stem cell studies, this reader would have welcomed more discussion of ethical analysis. For example, genetic alteration may lead to a host of new policy debates to amend constitutional rights for those affected by new procedures. Revamping traditional values to keep pace with changing medical technology can also reveal the psychological processes of how we deal with one another when faced with tough moral arguments. Granted, the author does mention some historical clashes dealing with human cloning, but a more in-depth philosophical exploration would have been appropriate. In all fairness, these added analyses could have easily increased the length of the book, making it too unwieldy for the author's initial intent, which was to give general background of the ongoing political struggles of biologists to remain aligned with the public's moral perceptions. The right to defend curiosity is an American way of life, but debates dealing with the depth and breadth of this right will continue to occupy the senatorial meeting rooms and life science lecture halls quite routinely. ( )
  donbuch1 | Jun 5, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
“Moreno shows how biological discoveries aggravate cultural tensions, challenge our political system and values, and stimulate debate about the place of science and scientists in America. . . . Sophisticated, useful, and well-written.”
added by blpbooks | editLibrary Journal
 
"Moreno pulls apart the debates on eugenics, abortion, end-of-life decisions, embryonic stem-cell research, reproductive cloning, chimeras and synthetic biology, among others, carefully reassembling what's at stake for each side. In graceful, sparkling prose, he illuminates the intricate threads of history and complex philosophical arguments..."
added by blpbooks | editKirkus Reviews
 
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Epigraph
To change one's life:
Start immediately.
Do it flamboyantly.
No exceptions.
--William James
Dedication
In memory of Marcia Lind and Steve Sussman
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The new politics of biology is unfolding against a complex cultural and historical background of scientific and technological innovation. The history of science in America reveals certain themes that are already at play in the new biopolitics: the tension between innovation and tradition, the influence of the Enlightenment in America's self-understanding, the importance of science for American power and prosperity, the relationship between progress and science, the role of government in sponsoring technological innovation and advancing a vision of science, and the development of a typically American "pragmatic" philosophy. What does America's experience with science suggest about its ability to muster the imagination and energy for a biotechnological future? How do the life sciences fit into America's civic narrative? And how has that experience laid the groundwork for the new biopolitics?
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Book description
In her foreword to Science Next, Elizabeth Edwards wrote of science as a tool for social progress: “Innovation is not simply the abstract victory of knowledge [or] the research that gave me years to live; the next science can advance human flourishing and serve the common good. That’s the kind of world I want to leave for my children, and for yours.” With these words, she joined a tradition that goes back to America’s founders, who saw America itself as a “great experiment.”

Yet while no one can deny that science undergirds the American Dream, it has long been fertile terrain for the “culture wars.” Along with arguing the pros and cons of abortion and healthcare, policymakers must now grapple with advancements that raise questions about what it means to be human: we’ve decoded the genome, but should we modify it to enhance certain “de- sirable” traits? If we can, should we prolong life at any cost? Will we soon be counting robots, cyborgs, and chimeras among our friends and family?

The first book to unpack our love/hate relationship with science from our country’s origins to today, The Body Politic is essential reading for science buffs and concerned citizens alike.
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"In her foreword to Science Next, Elizabeth Edwards wrote of science as a tool for social progress: "Innovation is not simply the abstract victory of knowledge [or] the research that gave me years to live; the next science can advance human flourishing and serve the common good. That's the kind of world I want to leave for my children, and for yours." With these words, she joined a tradition that goes back to America's founders, who saw America itself as a "great experiment." Yet while no one can deny that science undergirds the American Dream, it has long been fertile terrain for the "culture wars." Along with arguing the pros and cons of abortion and healthcare, policymakers must now grapple with advancements that raise questions about what it means to be human: we've decoded the genome, but should we modify it to enhance certain "desirable" traits? If we can, should we prolong life at any cost? Will we soon be counting robots, cyborgs, and chimeras among our friends and family?The first book to unpack our love/hate relationship with science from our country's origins to today, The Body Politic is essential reading for science buffs and concerned citizens alike.Jonathan D. Moreno is editor of the Center for American Progress' online magazine Science Progress and professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Author and editor of many seminal books and articles on science and science policy, he divides his time between Philadelphia, PA, and Washington, DC"--… (more)

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