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June 1, 1970

Who Shall Live? Medicine, Technology, Ethics

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1970;212(9):1528. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170220082029

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A new book dealing with the general topic of medical ethics should be brought to the attention of the medical profession. Six authors, none of them physicians, participated in a symposium covering a wide range of topics, from anthropology to theology. Deserving particular mention is the paper by Margaret Mead which, although quite rambling, helpfully emphasizes the relativity of ethical standards and ethical situations. Joseph Fletcher, in another rather loose and wide-ranging study, emphasizes the discrepancies between private interest and social interest. "The welfare of the many comes before the welfare of the few... The individual may rightly be sacrificed to the social good." Other subjects are "Technology and Value," "Abortion and the Law," "The Ethics of Genetic Control," and "Ethics in Modern Medicine." (This latter contribution is furnished by a German professor of Systematic Theology.)

But important topics are not adequately developed. The book, vastly uneven, suffers severely from