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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Bioethics in Historical Perspective

ISBN 9781403987242
Publication Date December 2013
Formats Paperback Hardcover Ebook 
Publisher Palgrave

How influential has the Nazi analogy been in recent medical debates on euthanasia? Is the history of eugenics being revived in modern genetic technologies? And what does the tragic history of thalidomide and its recent reintroduction for new medical treatments tell us about how governments solve ethical dilemmas?

Bioethics in Historical Perspective shows how our understanding of medical history still plays a part in clinical medicine and medical research today. With clear and balanced explanations of complex issues, this extensively documented set of case studies in biomedical ethics explores the important role played by history in thinking about modern medical practice and policy.

This book provides student readers with up-to-date information about issues in bioethics, as well as a guide to the most influential ethical standpoints. New twists added to well-known stories will engage those more familiar with the challenging field of contemporary bioethics.

Sarah Ferber is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wollongong, Australia, and Chair of the University of Wollongong and regional Human Research Ethics Committee (Health and Medical). She is author of Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern France and editor, with Sally Wilde, of The Body Divided: Human Beings and Human 'Material' in Modern Medical History.

1. Bioethics as Scholarship
2. Language, Narrative and Rhetoric in Bioethics
3. Euthanasia, the Nazi Analogy and the 'Slippery Slope'
4. Heredity, Genes and Reproductive Politics
5. Human Experimentation
6. Thalidomide


This thoroughly researched and balanced introduction to bioethics discourse and it historical foundations deserves a wide readership beyond those who are interested in medical science. Students of the history of medicine, politics, the pharma industry, and social and philosophical ethics will equally benefit from reading the book.' - Professor Catherine Hezer, LSE Review of Books
'While historians have charted how bioethics have been shaped by local, social or political contexts, no one has yet analysed how readings of the past also make a contribution to bioethical thought. Ferber does not simply analyse how various actors use history, moreover, but is also prepared to critique it...Future historians of bioethics...will undoubtedly find Bioethics in Historical Perspective an invaluable starting point for their research and teaching.' Dr Duncan Wilson, Social History of Medicine
'A thorough yet approachable introducation to the interdisciplinary field of bioethics through an historical lens. The author effectively balances this historical context of such core topics as the origins of bioethics with insightful commentary on how the interdisciplinary backgrounds of key players, such as Beauchamp's utilitarianism and Childress's deontology influenced practitioner's ethical approaches ... This volume is readily available to readers of all backgrounds.' - Choice
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