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ss triple helix - Christmas 2009,  bioethics at the movies

bioethics at the movies


    Sandra Shapshay (Ed)
  • The Johns Hopkins University Press 2009
  • £14.00
  • Pb 380pp
  • ISBN 978 0 80189 078 9

This collection of philosophical essays by academics grapple with ethical topics through the medium of film. The essays cover issues such as abortion,personhood, cloning andidentity, memory, euthanasia, eugenics, autonomy and paternalism,using well known films such as 'I, Robot', 'Wit', 'Gattaca'and 'Eternal Sunshine of theSpotless Mind', as well as moreobscure ones like the Japanese anime 'Ghost in the Shell'.

The level of discussion is high,with most contributors comingfrom a secular academictradition. I found it particularly stimulating to have two essays examining the same film but from different points of view.

For example, one used ClintEastwood's 'Million Dollar Baby' pro-euthanasia while a second criticised the film's portrayal of disability as a 'living death'. My only negative comment as a film lover is that the essays are much more about ethics than film, and at times the film analysis is fairly scanty.

If you like thinking about ethics and enjoy movies then this book is made for you. I found it stimulating, and each chapter has discussion questions that could be used equally well in the classroom or after watching a film at home with friends.

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