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Medical ethics through the Star Trek lens

(with John Lantos) Science fiction, which started out on the edges of literature and pulp fiction, has become more than mainstream; it is now an essential way of interpreting the world.—Eric P. Nash Throughout the twentieth century, science fiction has been deeply entwined in the popular moral imagination about the future. Novels, stories, and movies about science, technology, and moral decisions have shaped the way we think about people and the choices they make. From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World through George Orwell’s 1984, I. R. Levin’s The Boys from Brazil, or Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, technology and the scientists who develop and deploy it represent both our scariest nightmares and our deepest hopes and aspirations. We want to make a better world, but we are unsure of our abilities or the purity of our motivations. Over the past thirty years, the Star Trek series of movies and television shows have brought the ethical dilemmas of modern science and technology, and the ethical conflicts that arise in a vast, pluralistic universe, to a huge popular audience in a sensitive and accessible way. (Download the PDF)

James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist who serves as the Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is author of Citizen Cyborg and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. From 1999-2011 he produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio. (Subscribe to the J. Hughes RSS feed)

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