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Books, Journals, New Media
May 27, 1998

Ethics: Gay Science: The Ethics of Sexual Orientation Research

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

by Timothy F. Murphy, 268 pp, $29.95, ISBN 0-231-10848-6, New York, NY, Columbia University Press, 1997.

JAMA. 1998;279(20):1664-1665. doi:10.1001/jama.279.20.1664-JBK0527-4-1

The publisher sends this book to prospective reviewers with praise describing it as "determinedly objective." Thankfully, Gay Science isn't anything of the sort. Bioethicist Timothy Murphy provides the reader with an argument in support of freedom of etiologic research on sexual orientation. There is nothing inherently wrong with such a strategy. Bioethics as a discipline would gain tremendously if its analytical philosophers would stop pretending to be objective, impartial academics trying to do a difficult ethical job. Gay Science is one of quite a number of books published in the United States trying to defend etiologic research on sexual orientation against its critics. Simon LeVay's Queer Science (reviewed in JAMA September 11, 1996) and Dean Hamer's The Science of Desire are other examples.