David DeGrazia, Human Identity and Bioethics
Manninen (Bertha Alvarez)
Source: Journal of Value Inquiry (August 2009) 43:537–546
Paper - Abstract

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Author's Introduction

  1. David DeGrazia’s book is a welcome and refreshing merging of theoretical philosophy, in this case metaphysics, and applied philosophy. Unfortunately, much to the chagrin of many applied philosophers with a traditional philosophical education, the two fields have been bifurcated for far too long.
  2. In this book DeGrazia illustrates how intertwined they actually are; he stresses how certain moral positions in bioethics have foundational metaphysical claims at their root and, simultaneously, he illustrates how metaphysical questions, particularly the question concerning the nature of diachronic personal identity, have practical applications. This book deserves praise simply for successfully bringing together two fields of philosophy which have long been erroneously divorced.

Author's Introduction
  1. Overall, DeGrazia’s book is a compelling piece of work, ripe with just as much theoretical philosophy as it is with applied philosophy. This is one reason why the book is so refreshing; it illustrates that the unfortunate division between these two areas of philosophy are unnecessary and unwarranted.
  2. It would be an excellent book to use in a graduate seminar on the intersection of metaphysics and ethics, although one should be hesitant to use it for an undergraduate philosophy course given its complexity.
  3. There is much in this book that could have been argued for more extensively, and one should suspect that it would possibly not convert someone to the biological view of personal identity who did not already have some sympathies toward it. Yet it does possess some formidable objections towards mind essentialism and person essentialism that adherents to these two theories of personal identity should respond to.
  4. DeGrazia’s book is a valuable asset to both the metaphysics literature and the bioethics literature. One might hope that the book is indicative that metaphysics is beginning to be seen as having practical applications, rather than being relegated only to arm-chair philosophy, and that bioethics is beginning to be seen as a branch of genuine philosophy as well.


Review of "DeGrazia (David) - Human Identity and Bioethics".

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
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