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Nonconfrontational Rationality or Critical Reasoning

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 March 2011


Rationality and the Genetic Challenge by Matti Häyry is a well-written and thoughtful book about important issues in the contemporary ethical discussion of genetics. The book is well structured around seven practical themes that the author takes to exemplify “the genetic challenge.” He also refers to them as “seven ways of making people better,” which the subtitle of the book already puts into question form: Making People Better? In the first chapter of the book, Häyry introduces these seven themes and he discusses each of them in Chapters 3–9. In the remaining two chapters, 2 and 10, he describes the main normative positions analyzed in the book and clarifies his own methodology and position. He chooses six authors, or three pairs of authors, whom he takes to “represent the three normative doctrines of Western Moral philosophy” (p. 27) in order to demonstrate six “divergent rationalities” or “methods of genethics.” In this way, Häyry both summarizes the main prescriptive positions in contemporary bioethical debate and contrasts them with his own “nonconfrontational notion of rationality,” which aims to show that there is a variety of divergent, not mutually exclusive normative views, the justification of which “depends ultimately on the choice of worldviews, attitudes, and ideas about the foundation of moral worth” (p. 47).

Special Section: Methodology in Philosophical Bioethics
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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