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The Peril and Promise of Medical Technology

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D. Gareth Jones

Medical technology is one of the most powerful forces in the modern world, with enormous opportunities for good. For many in affluent countries, the expectations of what constitutes the good life have been transformed, as neonatal mortality rates have declined, life expectancy has increased, and one disease after another has been defeated. However, it is not an unalloyed blessing, as social patterns have been transformed, family structures have been challenged, and ordinary people as well as health professionals and scientists confront novel ethical dilemmas.
Gareth Jones writes not only as a scientist and bioethicist but also as a Christian. His aim is to make sense of some of the myriad issues encountered in a world dominated by medical technology. These include manipulation at the earliest stages of embryonic human life, through to ageing and attempts at bringing about physical immortality. The perceived power of genes is critically examined, as are claims that morality can be enhanced using technology. The centrality of the brain for making us what we are is sympathetically examined, against the backdrop of the ongoing debate on dualism and physicalism. Acknowledging our ever-increasing dependence upon medical technology, the author explores ways in which we can live in hope rather than fear.

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abortion 10–11, 22–3, 39, 57, 78 ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) see Ritalin ageing 172–89 in Scripture 186–9 altruism 136–7, 160, 161, 201 Alzheimer’s disease 46, 129, 177–8, 240 see also dementia artificial reproductive technologies 53–83, 208 Christian assessment of 54, 59–60, 65–83, 236–7 commercialisation of 82–3 see also IVF bible see Scripture Body Worlds 190, 191–2, 193–5 see also plastination brain damage 120, 124–30, 138–9 imaging 130–8 see also fMRI implants 144–7, 210 modification 44–5, 50, 121, 124–30, 139–48 see also deep brain stimulation; transcranial direct current stimulation plasticity 122–3, 126 religious experiences 131–2, 133–4, 138 see also enhancement, cognitive; mental illness; mind-body prob- lem; neurosurgery for mental disorder; stroke brainwashing 133 children, value of 32–3, 57 see also infertility cloning 63–4 community 49, 110 as context for decision-making 36, 39, 83 conception see fertilization consent see informed consent contraception 78, 79 control, human 3–5, 54, 102, 150, 163, 231–3 cosmetic surgery 175–7, 184 creativity, human 5, 6, 23, 45, 49 cyborgs 209–16 cystic fibrosis 19, 26 dead body 198–201 in Scripture 198–9 see also plastination death 172–3, 187–9, 224–5 see also immortality deep brain stimulation 144–6 dementia 129, 174 see also Alzheimer’s disease dependence upon God 25, 33, 49 depression 40–2 see also mental illness ‘designer babies’ 55, 110–12 determinism see genetic...

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