Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Bioethical Issues

Edited by Gregory E. Kaebnick
(McGraw-Hill, 2013)

This volume features 20 pairs of brief and accessible essays that stake out contrasting positions on a wide range of issues, including the role of autonomy in health care decision-making, the role of physicians in the execution of criminals, and the implementation in the Affordable Care Act of an individual mandate to buy health insurance. The essays are organized into six units: medical decision-making, end-of-life dilemmas, choices in reproduction, professional integrity, the development and use of biotechnology, and access to health care.

The book is intended for use in the classroom. In the introduction, Kaebnick, editor of theHastings Center Report, suggests that the dilemmas presented are intended more to offer an opportunity to engage the mind and frame thinking than to stake out sharp either-or positions. “Many of these societal problems do not admit of easy answers, and in fact, the title of the book notwithstanding, taking sides on these problems should not always be the goal,” he writes. “Careful exploration of contrasting positions, articulating differences of opinion, and recognizing that both sides may offer important moral insights are at least the first step in taking sides, and sometimes it may be as far as one can realistically go.”

The book is in its 15th edition. The earlier editions were developed and edited by Carol Levine, a Hastings Center Fellow and former editor of theHastings Center Report.