Interview with the Bioethicist

From: Dan Fabulich (
Date: Tue Feb 08 2000 - 07:51:48 MST

I'm going to be interviewing bioethicist Al Jonsen for publication in a
student paper here, and I'm wondering if any of you had any thoughts on
questions or topics I should bring to the table.

Jonsen is responsible for a number of texts in bioethics, and is
theoretically best known for his _Abuse of Casuistry_ in which he argues
that case-based reasoning is the best way to bring closure to ethical
debate. He argues that "applied" ethics is a misnomer: we don't work out
the abstract theory and then apply it to the specifics of medical ethics,
but rather operate on the basis of similarities to other paradigmatic
cases to reach moral conclusions.

Jonsen is against the legalization of euthanasia; thus far in my research
I have been unable to find his position on transhumanism, if any. (He
seems to want to stay far away from taking any particular position in most
of the texts I've read thus far; he may be more interested in winning a
good reputation for bioethics than putting forward any particular
arguments within the field in his books.) He applies the standard
arguments against Nazi eugenics in a number of texts, but I think we all
agree with those arguments, and that's why we're in favor of principles
like Open Society and Self Direction.

Having seen him talk a little, the man appears to be be a good speaker who
takes pains to make his ideas presentable.

Do any of you have suggestions re: what questions I should ask him, or
what approach you think would be optimal to a) make this an interesting
interview and b) spread the word a little re: transhumanism?


      -unless you love someone-
    -nothing else makes any sense-
           e.e. cummings

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