Death, Dying, and the Biological Revolution

Our Last Quest for Responsibility, Revised Edition

Robert M. Veatch

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"Veatch’s classic essay explores the moral, philosophical, legal and public policy implications of recent medical developments that prolong life."—John Gabree, New York Newsday



"[A] valuable contribution to the discussion of personal, institutional, and societal practice and policy in terminal care. . . . This volume contains much to recommend."—Ron Hamel, Health Progress




"Veatch’s exploration . . . is thorough, admirably nondogmatic, and reasonable; . . . there is much that is of great practical value."--David H. Jones, Review of Metaphysics



"This book is an important and timely update and revision of a work published in 1976."—Myron F. Weiner, The Pharos

"A well-knit review of the recent developments in the ethical and legal aspects surrounding the care of the dying person. . . . Extremely useful."—Journal of the American Medical Association

"This is a difficult, disturbing book, in the way that any honest inquiry into ethics and public policy cannot help but be. But if society is to avoid the contradictions, Catch-22 situations, or ad hoc decisions that currently prevail, such a volume is absolutely necessary and potentially fruitful."—Kirkus Reviews

"Although its subject matter is essentially disquieting, this important book deserves to be widely read. A scholarly but fluently written treatise, it explores the ethical, social and legal dilemmas ignited by the technological and biological revolutions which have enabled doctors to prolong life beyond its 'natural' termination."—Publishers Weekly

"Most readers will be well aware of the major issues considered in this book: the definition of death; the prolongation of life versus euthanasia; the patient's right to obtain information on his condition and to refuse treatment; and the transplantation of organs from the newly dead. The quality of understanding brought to these already familiar issues by Veatch . . . is sufficient to justify their reiteration, for the author approaches his subject with depth and from a variety of points of view—philosophical, theological, legal, and medical. . . . The book is well researched and documented and admirably reflect the author's expertise."—Library Journal

"Veatch has added a valuable volume to the burgeoning literature on the ethical and policy questions related to death and dying. . . . [It] should be seen as a strong and significant contribution."—Daniel C. Maguire, Theological Studies

"One of the most comprehensive and useful examples of the literature born of our new interest in dying and our attempts to cope with the fact that we can be kept technically—but only technically—alive for weeks, months, or even years with the aid of machines."—The Washington Post

"Dr. Veatch writes in a refreshing style and takes a clear stand on a host of philosophical, social, medical, ethical, and legal issues. He brings new and practical thinking to bear on such matters as the definition of death and the donation of organs for transplantation, subjects of continuing discussion and controversy. . . . This is an important book. It promises to become a force for change and deserves the attention of those who are concerned about the welfare of dying patients, their families, and their communities."—Russell Noyes, M.D., American Journal of Psychiatry

"A provocative and frank confrontation with the legal, moral and medical problems of death, this comprehensive, philosophical treatment of the transition from human life to death, stands for the proposition that society in general, and individuals in particular, must face up to death as a natural phenomenon. The author condemns the us of extraordinary means for prolonging life in terminal cases."—American University Law Review

"This volume is a must for all individuals interested in death: from public administrators to academicians, from college students to lay people."—Andrea Fontana, Contemporary Sociology

"Because of both the wealth of material included and the clarity with which certain debates are outlined, Death, Dying, and the Biological Revolution is . . . an invaluable aid in pursuing one's own though on a variety of topics related to death."—Patrick Grim, Cross Currents

"Essential for anyone interested in the ethical implications of the new awareness of death and dying. . . . Veatch handles a number of extremely difficult questions with extraordinary sensitivity, and his chapters on the choice not to prolong dying and the right to refuse treatment are specially strong. In addition, he deals with such as the pros and cons of the 'living will,' legal definitions of death, the responsibility of doctors, the rights of patients, and public policy considerations."—Commonweal

"This book is very readable, would be accessible to undergraduates, is laced with examples—actual cases that illustrate their points well—and it contains a good bibliography."—Choice

"The amount of research, background reading, reflection and analysis displayed both in the text and in the rich and extensive footnotes is overwhelming. . . . This book brings to bear an enormous amount of evidence on a wide variety of situations and does a good job in dealing with the complexities and confusions of the basic issues. For a long time to come, anyone treating these matters will have to take account of Dr. Veatch's book."—R.J. Henle, The Thomist

"As an intelligent guide to the issues in this area, Veatch's book is hard to beat. It's a good buy for anyone who wishes a quick but thorough and well-informed introduction to medical ethical issues pertaining to death and dying."—Donald Marquis, Journal of Social Welfare

"A splendid book, filled with specific cases, legal decisions, public policy proposals and ethical analysis. this volume establishes the author as the leading patient-libertarian in medical ethics today. To disagree, a reader is forced to say why; and that, in turn, is liable to transform disagreement about moral decisions from being merely interesting into becoming fruitful. It is to be hoped that discussion of Veatch's analysis does not focus exclusively on his final chapter, where he argues that the goal of conquering death (or aging) can be deemed to promote the general welfare."—Paul Ramsey