"Ethics at the Edges of Life" by Paul Ramsey

Ethics at the Edges of Life Medical and Legal Intersections Paul Ramsey

Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
10 Sep 1980
ISBN:
9780300021417
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
370 pages: 235 x 156mm

The tremendous changes in society’s attitudes toward abortion, euthanasia, the right to die, and other related life-and-death issues are reflected in recent court decisions and in new legislation.  This important book by one of America’s leading writers in the field of medical ethics analyzes these legal issues at the ethical level, showing how our laws and practices affect and reflect the morality of our times. 

 

Ramsey is concerned with medicine, ethics, law, and with medical and public policy.  He examines relevant laws and court decisions that make policy, but not without a healthy measure of moral argument and critical assessment.  Among the recent legal issues that he analyzes in detail are the decision of the Supreme Court of New Jersey in the Quinlan case; the rights of defective newborn infants; the Edelin negligent manslaughter case; the “conscience clauses” in our federal code and in state statutes; the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on abortion in Planned Parenthood v. Danforth; and California’s Natural Death Act. 

 

Ramsey studies the reasoning behind the court’s decision or the law and holds up these legal processes as mirrors in which we can see reflected the state of moral questions as they are perceived by contemporary society.  A perceptive and well-informed social critic, he provides an ethical assessment of the discourse going on concerning issues of medical practice and public policy. 

 

"What [Ramsey] has to say must be of compelling interest to everyone concerned with the moral problems of medicine, life and death and not merely to those who share his faith. This is . . . probably the single most important text in the area of medical ethics written in modern times. . . . It is a book that cannot itself be summarized; it has to be read."—Alasdair MacIntyre, The New Republic

 

"Ramsey’s arguments . . . reflect great moral passion as well as his usual rigorous analysis."—James F. Childress, Religious Studies Review

 

"Ramsey forces one to think deeply and systematically about issues that cannot be reduced to maxims or formulas. His work serves both as a challenge and as an inspiration."—New England Journal of Medicine

 

"A monumental feat. Ramsey is neither a physician nor a lawyer, but I venture to say that he has much to offer members of each profession – and a great deal to offer the average reader. His analysis of the legal issues at the ‘edges of life’ and his critical assessment of the relevant court decisions are brimful, probing and provocative. A meaty book, beautifully written."—Yale Kamisar

 

Ethics at the Edges of Life was selected as an outstanding book for 1979 in the Scholarly Books category of the National Religious Book Awards.


 

"[One of the] most important recent books on ethical issues in death and dying. . . . Ramsey's arguments . . . reflect great moral passion as well as his usual rigorous analysis. . . . [He] interweaves ethical, medical, and legal materials, identifying their intersections. . . . Not only does he offer an incisive ethical critique of legal reasoning, he also treats the law and legal process as 'mirrors' reflecting trends in our social ethos. His aim is to elevate as well as to assess that discourse. . . . He primarily wants to analyse and reform the ethos and state of moral discourse in our society."?James F. Childress, Religious Studies Review


"The volume is a most helpful contribution to the literature in that it points out many problems with respect to public policy that have not received the full attention Ramsey gives to them. The book is a fitting conclusion to Ramsey's work in medical ethics."?Thomas A. Shannon, Theological Studies


"This is . . . probably the single most important text in the area of medical ethics written in modern times. . . . In the course of his arguments [Ramsey] presents us with marvelously lucid summaries of the relevant medical and legal detail. So much so that this is a book that cannot itself be summarized; it has to be read."?Alasdair MacIntyre, The New Republic


"An instructive blend of law, medicine, and ethics."?John T. Noonan, Jr., Michigan Law Review


"A fascinating analysis of the moral and legal aspects of abortion and euthanasia, with a special focus on the Quinlan case and the California natural death act. Ramsey . . . develops an essentially Christian viewpoint, tempering it with practical insight."?John Krasno, Los Angeles Times Book Review


"Essential for all professionals involved in bioethical decision-making, a worthwhile challenge to undergraduate and highly motivated general readers, essential for all libraries. Extensive and useful documentation and a fine index."?Choice


"A monumental feat. A product of a lifetime of deep concern and keen thinking about the ethical, medical, and legal-policy aspects of the 'edges of life.' Paul Ramsey's command of this intractable subject is extraordinary. And so is his command of the English language. Ramsey is neither a physician nor a lawyer (hard to believe), but I venture to say he has much to offer members of each profession?and a great deal to offer the average reader. His analysis of the legal issues at the edge of life and his critical assessment of the relevant court decisions are brimful, probing and provocative. A meaty book beautifully written."?Yale Kamisar


"Ramsey forces one to think deeply and systematically about issues that cannot be reduced to maxims or formulas. His work serves both as a challenge and as an inspiration."?New England Journal of Medicine


"The material comprise considerations of ethical principle and social policy interwoven with critical examinations of highly significant recent cases. Since the selection of cases concentrates on conditions of life close to its extremities, conception and death, the predominant issues are related to abortion and euthanasia. Ramsey's characteristic refusal to oversimplify either ethics or the problems ethics must deal with makes his lessons . . . very valuable."?Richard A. McCormick, America


"Informative, thoughtful, penetrating. Ethics at the Edges of Life presents clear and reasonable conclusions, based on a mass of pertinent information, which will help the reader to formulate reasoned positions of his own even if he disagrees with those of Ramsey."?The Critic


"It is at life's 'edges,' its beginning and ending phases, that ethical attitudes towards human care for life tend to express themselves most clearly and significantly. Ramsey offers a remarkably profound critical analysis of such attitudes as they appear in recent interactions of medical and legal judgment. The book is an indispensable antidote for the over-simple approaches to highly complex issues related to abortion ad euthanasia."?New Review of Books and Religion


"Ramsey, one of the most incisive and influential ethicists of our time . . . examines the meeting and crashing points of morality and law in relation to abortion, 'euthanasia,' . . . and other questions 'at the edges of life.' This collection is a worthy addition to the important work of Paul Ramsey."?Worldview


"Human actions taken to delay death or end life are subject to medical, ethical or legal restrictions that have existed in everchanging forms for centuries. . . . This book should be read by everyone passing responsible judgments on these problems. It is a rich source of many contrasting opinions, with examples of relevant human actions."?AAAS Science Books & Films


"This is one of the finest texts in the area of medical ethics written in modern times. It deals with common moral problems of medicine, life and death. . . . [Ramsey] presents us with excellent lucid summaries of the relevant medical and legal detail to such an extent that the whole text book should be read to understand the various moral and legal implications which are important to medicine in relation to life and death."?Medical Book News


Chosen as an Outstanding Scholarly Books for 1979 by the National Religious Book Awards