Book Review: O. Carter Snead, “What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics”

The purpose of laws is to protect people’s rights and freedoms, thus promoting human flourishing. Because they reflect societal values, laws are based on society’s anthropology—its concept of what it means to be human, and the goods, virtues, and practices that ensure prosperity for its citizens. Therefore, for human beings to flourish, laws should be grounded in an understanding of the human condition as it is actually lived. In What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics, O. Carter Snead delivers a devastating critique of the anthropological foundations of current laws and policies in public bioethics. His goal is not to propose specific changes, but to defend a more robust vision of the human experience and to offer an alternative to the contemporary paradigm.

Book Review: Tom Nichols, “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters”

I recently saw a satirical video advertising doctors as the solution to confusion surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The video made the point that doctors, people who have dedicated close to a decade of education to understanding disease processes, have been some of the most ignored voices in the Covid-19 crisis. Tom Nichols, Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College, would argue that this assessment is true not only of medicine, but also of expert fields in general. Nichols, in this book diagnoses the death of expertise as a disregard for experts by the lay public. Nichols argues that the American lay person no longer considers the expert’s opinion to have extraordinary weight, and the expert subsequently withdraws from conversations where their knowledge is not valued (Nichols 2017, 4–5).

A New Chapter for Ethics & Medicine

Ethics & Medicine will enter a new era of publication with the next issue, 36:3.
Founded almost four decades ago in Edinburgh, Scotland, by Nigel M. de S. Cameron, the
journal is one of the longest running journals in the field. It has been my honor and
privilege to edit the journal for more than half of its existence. Both Nigel and I have
benefited in innumerable ways from our association with the members of the Editorial
Advisory Board and regular contributors to the journal. For those individuals, and
their enormous contributions, we are most grateful.

The new editor, I am happy to report, is the formidable Michael J. Sleasman,
PhD, Associate Professor of Bioethics and the Director of Bioethics Degree Program
at Trinity Graduate School, Trinity International University in Chicago, Illinois.