Genetics, Theology, and Ethics

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Genetics, Theology, and Ethics

An Interdiscipinary Conversation

Catholic Press Association Award-winner.  From a team of the world’s leading bioethicists, a collection of popular and scholarly essays on the challenges of bioethics in our world today. Topics include stem cell research, cloning, economic challenges, and society’s common good.

Research on embryos and stem cells, cloning and genetic enhancement dominates public debates about genetics. Many questions remain: Who will have access to potential benefits? How will the profit motive shape research?  What can ethical theory contribute to the discussion? In Genetics, Theology, and Ethics, Americans, Europeans, and advocates from the developing world enter the conversation from a theological standpoint, offering provocative analyses on these and other major questions.


Topics include:


  • Stem Cell Research
  • The Human Being and the Myth of Progress
  • Moral Experience
  • Virtue Ethics
  • Socioeconomics
  • The Common Good
  • The Role of Developing Countries
  • Genetic Research Today
  • Scientific Challenges
  • Predictive Testing and Prenatal Testing
Reviews and endorsements

This outstanding compilation was produced by an international group of Catholic scholars who participated in a series of annual symposia conducted at assorted academic and medical venues in North American and Europe between 1996 and 2001. Among the contributors are Lisa Sowle Cahill, Kevin T. FitzGerald, James F. Keenan, and Bartha Maria Knoppers. The authors focus on theological questions that arise from serious reflection on the ethical issues surrounding genetic research. Because this research holds out promise for human flourishing, the contributors correctly point out that the moral permissibility of cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, and genetic enhancement is inexorably connected to how one first answers the more rudimentary theological questions about the nature of human beings and what constitutes the good life. This book's only shortcoming is that none of the contributors seriously engages the metaphysics that grounds the bioethical views of more traditional Catholic thinkers, such as John Finnis.
Theology Today


Lisa Sowle Cahill is J. Donald Mohan. S.J., Professor of Theology at Boston College. These 11 essays are the work of an international group of Catholic theologians and bioethicists who met annually for five years (1996-2001) with the support of the Porticus Foundation to study questions of "Genetics. Theology, and Ethics." The members were from the United States, Belgium, Germany, and Brazil and were joined by Dutch representatives of Porticus. Subjects treated include the theology of stem-cell research; the possibilities and limitations of finite freedom; virtue ethics and genetics; genetics, theology, and the common good; the contribution of developing countries to the ethical debate on genetics; human genetic research today and tomorrow; and predictive and prenatal testing. The last essay responds to the essays by Hasna Begum, professor of philosophy (retired) of the University of Dhaka. An index is included.
Theology Digest


The book is a significant step in bringing the resources of the Catholic ethical tradition to bear on those developing applications that are rapidly generated by modern genetics. The essays are most helpful in their critical analysis, their use of the tradition, and their thoughtful and thorough examination of possible responses to current developments in genetics. The problems are difficult conceptually and ecclesially. The authors are to be highly commended for their willingness to engage in the creative development of a Catholic approach to them. The book would be most useful for upper division undergraduate seminars or for graduate courses.
Theology Studies Magazine

Paperback / 208 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 9 1/4