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Bioethics at the Movies by Sandra Shapshay


Bioethics at the Movies by Sandra Shapshay

Bioethics at the Movies explores the ways in which popular films engage basic bioethical concepts and concerns. Twenty-one philosophically grounded essays use cinematic tools such as character and plot development, scene setting, and narrative framing to demonstrate a range of principles and topics in contemporary medical ethics.The first two sections plumb popular and bioethical thought on birth, abortion, genetic selection, and personhood through several films, including The Cider House Rules, Citizen Ruth, Gattaca, and I, Robot. In the third section, the contributors examine medical practice and troubling questions about the quality and commodification of life by way of Dirty Pretty Things, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and other movies. The fourth section's essays use Million Dollar Baby, Critical Care, Big Fish, and Soylent Green to show how the medical profession and society at large view issues related to aging, dying, and death. A final section makes use of Extreme Measures and select films from Spain and Japan to discuss two foundational matters in bioethics: the role of theories and principles in medicine and the importance of cultural context in devising care. Structured to mirror bioethics and cinema classes, this innovative work includes end-of-chapter questions for further consideration and contributions from scholars from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel, Spain, and Australia.Contributors: Robert Arp, Ph.D., Michael C. Brannigan, Ph.D., Matthew Burstein, Ph.D., Antonio Casado da Rocha, Ph.D., Stephen Coleman, Ph.D., Jason T. Eberl, Ph.D., Bradley J. Fisher, Ph.D., Paul J. Ford, Ph.D., Helen Frowe, Ph.D., Colin Gavaghan, Ph.D., Richard Hanley, Ph.D., Nancy Hansen, Ph.D., Al-Yasha Ilhaam, Ph.D., Troy Jollimore, Ph.D., Amy Kind, Ph.D., Zana Marie Lutfiyya, Ph.D., Terrance McConnell, Ph.D., Andy Miah, Ph.D., Nathan Norbis, Ph.D., Kenneth Richman, Ph.D., Karen D. Schwartz, LL.B., M.A., Sandra Shapshay, Ph.D., Daniel Sperling, LL.M., S.J.D., Becky Cox White, R.N., Ph.D., Clark Wolf, Ph.D.


A worthwhile addition to the core texts in the field of medical humanities. It is a valuable guide for teaching medical ethics and is worthy of a sequel. * JAMA * Should serve as a resource not only for teachers of bioethics courses but also for those engaged in understanding the relationship of the humanities to medicine and to bioethics... In addition, the book may prompt serious discussion of popular films that address complex topics and stories that have bioethical implications. -- Jeremy Sugarman * Science * Stimulating... each chapter has discussion questions that could be used equally well in the classroom or after watching a film at home with friends. -- James Paul * Triple Helix * The twenty-one essays, together with an excellent introduction by Shapshay, are a welcome addition to the bioethics literature, making up for some of the deficiencies of the usual case studies found in most bioethics text books. Most of the major distinctions, problems, and arguments which make up the field of bioethics are presented in uniformly well written essays typically focusing on a single film. Each essay is accompanied by study questions and excellent bibliographies. * Metapsychology *

About the Author

Sandra Shapshay is an assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Philosophy and affiliate faculty at the Center for Bioethics at Indiana University.

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Book Info

Publication date

12th January 2009


Sandra Shapshay

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Johns Hopkins University Press


400 pages


Film theory & criticism



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