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Selected book publications of the Institute for Ethics and History of Medicine



Jenseits der Therapie
Philosophie und Ethik wunscherfüllender Medizin
Eichinger, T. (2013)
Bielefeld: transcript

Perfect appearance and eternal youth, intelligence and creativity, strength and concentration. Today, medicine should and wants to fulfill all these wishes. Whether anti-aging, cosmetic surgery, neuroenhancement or gene doping – in addition to its classic therapeutic mission, medical assistance is increasingly also pursuing the goal of wish fulfillment. Without any reference to disease or indication, as medicine for healthy people.

After a philosophical examination of the meaning of wants and needs, Tobias Eichinger analyzes the theoretical foundations of wish-fulfilling medicine. He shows: Medical assistance beyond therapy can lead to considerable ethical problems.

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Abschied von der freudigen Erwartung.
Werdende Eltern unter dem wachsenden Druck der vorgeburtlichen Diagnostik
Maio, G. (2013)
Waltrop: Manuscriptum

More and more often, pregnancy is overshadowed by worries. Everything revolves around the health of the growing child. Feared dangers and risks beset parental anticipation. In the case of a diagnosed disability, the child is often perceived as a burden or even a threat to the parents and to society. The increasing possibilities offered by medical technology to put unborn life through its paces give rise in the blink of an eye to the parental duty to »not take any risks«. More and more frequently, parents-to-be are required to decide whether to abort the child in the event of critical or inconclusive findings as a precautionary measure.

The basic ethical assumption that every human being is unique and that his or her life must be unavailable is increasingly on the defensive. Some even consider it antiquated. The high emotional cost of a decision against a handicapped child or against unborn life at all, as well as the social consequences of this defensive attitude, often only become apparent much later. Giovanni Maio therefore urgently pleads for recognizing the inherent preciousness of every life. He is concerned not to blindly follow the technical-diagnostic feasibility, but to rediscover the gift character of all life in humility and caution.

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Kinderwunsch und Reproduktionsmedizin -
Ethische Herausforderungen der technisierten Fortpflanzung
Maio, G./Eichinger, T./Bozzaro, C. (Hg.) (2013)
Freiburg: Alber

Whereas in the past involuntary childlessness was regarded as fate, modern reproductive medicine now promises technical remedies, suggesting a feasibility that also arouses new desires. The possibilities of helping involuntarily childless people to have their own children have expanded considerably in recent years.

Thus, fertility treatments today promise medical assistance not only to heterosexual couples suffering from infertility. Single people, same-sex couples and post-menopausal women can also fulfill their desire to have their own child by making use of sperm and egg donation, surrogacy or procedures for freezing unfertilized eggs.

In this way, reproductive medicine not only responds effectively to the suffering of those affected, but also contributes to the establishment of completely new forms of parenthood. In addition, personal needs and individual wishes are becoming increasingly important in the design of reproduction.

But at the same time, this affects profound convictions about the self-image of human beings, about the value of naturalness, and about family and relationship models. How should we deal with the fact that the use of reproductive techniques and procedures can lead to completely new parental constellations? Do children have a right to young parents? To heterosexual parents? To unambiguous parentage? What do the new technical procedures mean for the concept of family and the change in forms of relationships?

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Macht und Ohnmacht des Wortes - Ethische Grundfragen einer personalen Medizin 
Maio, G. (Hg.) (2012)
Göttingen: Wallstein

The word can still be healing where conventional medicine is at its end. An interdisciplinary look at the meaning of the word in medicine.

Modern medicine: it relies on natural sciences, on technology, on repair. As if the disease alone were a defect to be repaired. Within such a conception of medicine, all power is directed to doing and it is misjudged that the sick person can often be helped by the word rather than by doing.
What is the power of the word in medicine, and where is its limit? This book gives an insight into the different facets of this connection, in order to sensitize for a medicine, which can conceive itself as a humane medicine only as a personal medicine.
In his life's work to date, Dietrich von Engelhardt has emphasized the need for holistic treatment of the patient and holistic medicine in a sociocultural context, and has given special importance to the word. This anthology is dedicated to him on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

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Leben schaffen? Philosophische und ethische Reflexionen zur Synthetischen Biologie 
Boldt, J. / Müller, O. / Maio, G. (Hg.) (2012)
Paderborn: Mentis

Synthetic biology continues in a systematic way what was started in genetic engineering: The targeted modification and optimization of cellular functions at the molecular level. Whereas in classical genetic engineering these interventions were limited to the implementation of individual genes and short gene sequences in host organisms, in synthetic biology entire genomes of single-celled organisms and their metabolic and signal transduction processes become the object of technical intervention.

These new technical possibilities are associated with a broad spectrum of conceivable fields of application. They range from bacteria that produce hydrogen, to microorganisms that break down pollutants in the environment, to viruses that detect malignant cells in the human body and stop their growth. However, given the depth of intervention with which synthetic biology seeks to alter simple forms of life, fundamental philosophical and ethical questions arise. With regard to synthetic biology, can one speak of the »creation of life«? Are artificially produced living beings »living machines«? What does it mean for our understanding of life, which is always normative and shaped by life, if we can manipulate life so fundamentally? These questions, which have so far only been raised in their infancy, are explored in this volume.

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Abschaffung des Schicksals?
Menschsein zwischen Gegebenheit des Lebens und medizin-technischer Gestaltbarkeit
Maio, G. (Hg.) (2012)
Freiburg: Herder

Fate - for medicine, this has virtually become a foreign word. For in the 20th century, the idea has prevailed that we have not only the shaping but also the basic conditions of life in our own hands. But then a fellow human being in apparently the best of health is struck by an incurable disease, leaving us at a loss.

The extent to which fate nevertheless determines our lives and how we relate to it will be discussed by physicians, philosophers and theologians, including Dietrich von Engelhardt, Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz, Peter Gross, Daniel Hell, Bernd Hontschik, Rainer Marten, Eberhard Schockenhoff and Fritz von Weizsäcker.

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Mittelpunkt Mensch: Ethik in der Medizin
Ein Lehrbuch
Maio, G. (2012)
Stuttgart: Schattauer

Medicine is not an applied natural science, but a social practice in the service of the human being. Because the art of healing should be a form of caring for the whole person, it is thus inevitably dependent on an ethical reflection of its actions. But what constitutes a good action in dealing with sick people? How can a differentiated ethics in medicine be formulated and justified? How can one orient oneself in the face of often controversial value convictions? For such an orientation, it is important to bring theory together with practice and to tie today's problems back to ethical-philosophical basic questions of being human.

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Gehirn - Cover.jpg

Altwerden ohne alt zu sein?

Ethische Grenzen der Anti-Aging-Medizin
Maio, G. (Hg.) (2011)
Freiburg: Alber

Vom Traum der ewigen Jugend zum guten Altwerden

Modern medicine has long since ceased to be merely a healing art, but is increasingly also a wish-fulfilling service market. A symbol of this change in identity is so-called anti-aging medicine, which serves and commercially exploits the longings of many people for eternal youth. The more such offers move away from medicine's core concern of preventing or treating disease, the more they raise fundamental anthropological questions: What is the significance of old age for being human? How might one formulate an anthropologically based concept of good aging? What does it mean when large parts of modern medicine reduce the concept of good aging to the criteria of fitness and performance? What anthropological pre-understandings are hidden behind such anti-aging offers?

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Das Gehirn als Projekt.
Wissenschaftler, Künstler und Schüler erkunden unsere neurotechnische Zukunft
Müller, O. / Maio, G. / Boldt, J. / Mackert, J. (Hg.) (2011)
Freiburg/Berlin: Rombach

The brain has become the object of technical access. Neurotechnologies intervene deeply in the brain and enable novel forms of fusion between man and machine. In this way, serious diseases can be treated. At the same time, however, the voices of those who want to specifically optimize brain performance in order to make people more efficient are also increasing. This is an explosive mixture: the brain is becoming a project for design intentions of all kinds. What this can mean for our concept of man and for his living environment is the subject of this book. In addition to experts from the university, young people, whom the topic will increasingly occupy in the coming years, as well as authors and theater creators, have their say, opening up new spaces for thought and experience in order to formulate the questions that get lost in the daily grind. The result is – in terms of content and style – a kaleidoscope of perspectives and experiences that invites further thought.

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Ethik in Strukturen bringen
Denkanstöße zur Ethikberatung im Gesundheitswesen
Heinemann, W. / Maio, G. (Hg.) (2010)
Freiburg: Herder

Ethical conflicts are unavoidable in our hospitals and nursing homes. But according to which values and criteria should patients/residents, relatives, nurses, physicians and institutions make joint decisions? In recent years, ethics committees have begun their work in many places. With the help of many practical examples, this book shows how they can succeed in mediating between the various interests and weighing up the given options for action.

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Zwischen Mensch und Maschine
Vom Glück und Unglück des Homo faber

Müller, O. (2010)
Berlin: Suhrkamp (edition unseld)

With his technology, man has long since been shaping not only external nature, but also himself. In addition to biotechnological manipulation of the genome, it is increasingly neurotechnologies that man uses to change and shape his own self. With the therapeutic success of these technologies, neurotechnological remodeling of body and mind are on the horizon, designed to »optimize« the human being. Using the example of the latest technical access possibilities to the human brain, Oliver Müller explores in his essay the question of what effects technologization processes have and could have on our selfhood and on our self-understanding. At the center of the considerations are forms of self-instrumentalization, self-reification, and self-cyborgization, which lie in the technically altered perception of one's own person and in the self-adaptation to the perfection of technical processes. The cipher of Homo faber captures the unhappiness that lies in the happiness of progress in becoming better and better.


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Synthetische Biologie
Eine ethisch-philosophische Analyse

Boldt, J. / Müller, O. / Maio G. (2009)
Bern: BBL

Synthetic biology, like physics and chemistry, aims not only to analyze but also to recreate and rebuild its objects. With its vision of creating new unicellular life forms, this emerging field of research moves living things into the realm of technical producibility. This volume explores possible consequences for our understanding of life and for our relationship to life. Metaphors such as «living machine» illustrate how unclear the ontological status of the newly formed living can become. Moreover, the step from genetic manipulation to the creation of new life forms will have consequences for the human self-understanding.

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Das technisierte Gehirn
Neurotechnologien als Herausforderung für Ethik und Anthropologie

Müller, O. / Clausen, J. / Maio G. (Hg.) (2009)
Paderborn: Mentis

Modern neurotechnologies are a challenge for our ethical reflection. As homo faber, man has always shaped and formed the world according to his own ideas. With modern neurotechnologies, however, man himself becomes the object of his will to mechanize and shape in a special way. Technology can penetrate ever deeper into the brain. At the same time, increasingly precise knowledge of neurophysiological processes and interrelationships is making it possible to replace brain functions with technical ones.

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Arzneimittel des 20. Jahrhunderts

Eschenbruch, N. / Balz, V. / Klöppel, U. / Hulverscheidt, M (Hg.) (2009)
Bielefeld: transcript

Medicinal substances revolutionized medical practice and everyday life in the 20th century. This volume introduces the history of medicinal substances in the German-speaking world. The contributions each introduce a substance on the basis of a distinctive year in its history, taking into account characteristic historical contexts, such as the Federal German Reconstruction Society. Important points of reference are the recent history of science, cultural and social history, and science and technology studies.

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Sein und Sollen
Philosophische Fragen zu Erkenntnis und Verantwortlichkeit

Boldt, J. (2008)
Würzburg: Ergon (Studien zur Phänomenologie und praktischen Philosophie 4)

This paper attempts to understand the basic epistemological assumptions of a philosophy as represented by Sören Kierkegaard and Emmanuel Lévinas as conditions under which the assumption of responsibility for action can be justified. To this end, the first part of the paper explores the implications of a model of stating cognition for understanding action and reality. Moreover, it is shown that the assumption of responsibility must be a foreign body in this model. The approaches of Hume, Kant, and Hegel are discussed in addition to more recent contributions of analytic philosophy to the debate on responsibility. In the second part, following Kierkegaard and Lévinas, the conception of instructed cognition is introduced and developed in its consequences. This conception thus makes it possible to anchor the argumentative goal of the discussion , responsibility as a central component of our understanding of reality.

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Die »Natur des Menschen« in Neurowissenschaft und Neuroethik
Clausen J. / Müller, O. / Maio, G. (Hg.) (2008)
Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann

F.-J. Bormann: Human Nature as the Basis of Morality? On the Relevance of the Concept of Nature for Bio- and Neuroethics Brain-Machine Interfaces A. Aertsen: Brain Machine-Interfacing by Implantable Electrodes in Humans T. Stieglitz: Neuroprostheses as Interface to the Peripheral and Central Nervous System: Insights and Prospects from the Perspective of Biomedical Engineering J. Clausen: Brain-Computer Interfaces: Ethical-anthropological aspects of neuroprosthetics Gernot Böhme: Duties against oneself: On the Ethics of Bodily Existence in Technical Civilization Clinical Questions A. Schulze-Bonhage: Decision Conflicts in Preoperative Diagnostics and Epilepsy Surgical Treatment G. Nikkhah: Empiricism and Science of Functional Neurosurgery: Chances, Risks and Limitations of Modern Biotechnology in the Operating Room K. Crone: Personal Identity as Orientation in Human Brain Interventions Optimization of Brain Performance M. Berger / C. Normann :Possibilities of pharmacological neuroenhancement J. S. Ach: Nanotechnology as neuroenhancement: possibilities, visions and ethical-anthropological aspects W. Lesch: Memory enhancement as brain doping ? Orientation between naturalness and artificiality O. Müller: What orientation does the nature of man provide in borderline questions of neuroenhancement?

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Mensch ohne Maß?
Reichweite und Grenzen anthropologischer Argumente in der biomedizinischen Ethik

Maio, G. / Clausen, J. / Müller, O. (Hg.) (2008)
Freiburg: Alber

Modern biomedicine opens up ever more far-reaching possibilities not only to heal people, but also to improve them according to individual wishes. The given no longer needs to be accepted, man makes himself the designer of himself. But where is the measure of this self-design potential? What distinguishes a good from a problematic self-design?
This interdisciplinary anthology examines whether there can be answers to these questions from the concept of being human itself. For it is the task of anthropology to clarify which concept and which image of the human being we can base our actions on. And it is one of the tasks of medical ethics to point out the limits of action in biomedicine. Both together allow a deeper insight into our self-understanding as human beings in the face of rapidly advancing biomedical options for action. Both together give information about the measure of the human being. 

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Schwierige Entscheidungen
Krankheit, Medizin und Ethik im Film

Schmidt, K. / Maio, G. / Wulff, H.J. (Hg.) (2008)
Frankfurt am Main: Haag Herchen



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Nursing Stories
Life and Death in a German Hospice

Eschenbruch, N. (2007)
Oxford: Berghahn (New Directions in Anthropology 27)

In einer Zeit, in der der Anteil der älteren Bevölkerung in allen westlichen Gesellschaften zunimmt, muss der wachsenden Zahl von Menschen, die mit einer langwierigen, unheilbaren Krankheit leben und daran sterben, wobei Krebs eine der häufigsten ist, mehr und mehr Aufmerksamkeit geschenkt werden. Diese Studie konzentriert sich auf unheilbar kranke Menschen in einem deutschen Hospiz und geht der Frage nach, wie sinnvolle Erfahrungen für diese Patienten konstruiert werden, um ihre Würde als Person zu bewahren. Sie basiert auf detailliertem und manchmal bewegendem Material aus Tagebuchtexten und der aktiven Teilnahme des Autors in der Rolle einer Krankenschwester, die es ihm ermöglichte, das Verhalten von Patienten und Krankenschwestern in Routinesituationen genau zu beobachten und die zugrundeliegenden Emotionen, Werte und Annahmen in solchen Interaktionen zu untersuchen. Dieses Buch geht weit über diesen speziellen Fall hinaus und kommt zu Schlussfolgerungen über Sterbeerzählungen, die für die Sozialwissenschaften im Allgemeinen von Bedeutung sind.

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Der Status des extrakorporalen Embryos
Perspektiven eines interdisziplinären Zugangs

Maio, G. (Hg.) (2007)
Bad Cannstadt: Frommann-Holzboog

The increasing availability and manipulability of the human embryo raises the question of appropriate handling in a wide variety of medical contexts. In order to clarify this in more detail, the Freiburg collaborative project »The Status of the Extracorporeal Embryo«, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, has set itself the task of addressing this fundamental question in an interdisciplinary approach. This volume brings together the main results of the large-scale project, poses the question of the ontological, moral and legal status of the extracorporeal embryo from an interdisciplinary perspective, discusses criteria for the normative significance of this status and develops regulatory proposals for national and international legislation.

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Kierkegaards „Furcht und Zittern“
als Bild seines ethischen Erkenntnisbegriffs
Boldt, J. (2006)
Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter

Interpretation of Kierkegaard's most provocative work, in which the Danish philosopher makes the biblical narrative of the sacrifice of Isaac the epitome of faith.

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Sorge um die Vernunft
Hans Blumenbergs phänomenologische Anthropologie

Müller, O. (2005)
Paderborn: mentis

This book is the first attempt to do justice to the diversity of Blumenberg’s thought by, on the one hand, consulting all writings – including unknown essays, the dissertation and habilitation thesis – and, on the other hand, by pursuing a continuous line of questioning in Blumenberg's sprawling oeuvre via a cultural anthropological approach. Blumenberg has often been criticized for writing too rhapsodically and unsystematically and for lacking a solid foundation in his writings. Oliver Müller investigates this accusation and examines on which pillars Blumenberg's thinking rests and at which points these pillars are dilapidated. In doing so, he shows on the one hand that Blumenberg – whose thinking begins in the metaphysical ruins after World War II – can only be understood against the background of Husserl's and Heidegger's philosophy. On the other hand, Müller makes clear the extent to which Blumenberg links his philosophy to philosophical anthropology, especially to Cassirer and Gehlen – which requires careful reconstruction work in Blumenberg's thought. The panoramic view of the oeuvre as a whole makes it clear that Blumenberg the skeptic is always struggling for a concept of reason and that his theory – here one can seek to grasp the metaphorologist by his own means – in the image of seeing, being seen, and reason coming to itself as a spectator of its own shipwreck. Thus the anthropological and reason-theoretical considerations of this book combine in the concept of „homo spectator“.

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