April 21st 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The deeper causes of Australia's social malaise

GENDER POLITICS Queensland proposes transgender birth certificates

CANBERRA OBSERVED Malcolm at 30 (polls): the cloud on Turnbull's horizon

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell firmly denies sex abuse allegations

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Sydney Archdiocese aims to eliminate slavery in supply chain

RURAL DEVELOPMENT Irrigation along Fitzroy River proposed and opposed

LIFE ISSUES Abortion Rethink Summit: the case for care

VERBATIM WA food, drink producers face shortage of carbon dioxide

HOUSING AFFORDABILITY Land costs: economist Henry George's solution

ELECTRICITY Will Turnbull lose three out of three?

ECONOMICS Trade wars: tariffs unlikely to be fired in anger

SEX AND TEENS How about support for the abstaining majority?

VISUAL ARTS Layers of meaning in Botticelli's La Primavera and The Birth of Venus

MUSIC Is it good?: Or, do we just like the sound it makes?

CINEMA The Death of Stalin: Black comedy of a dark time

BOOK REVIEW Cool head on topic that generates heat

BOOK REVIEW Life's not so bad: from the outside

POETRY

LETTERS

OPINION What a republic would really mean for Australia

Books promotion page

Bird on an Ethics Wire: Battles about Values in the Culture Wars

Margaret Somerville

$45.75


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McGill-Queen’s UP, Montreal, 2015
Hardcover: 358 pages
Price: AUD$45.75

 

Book description

Our physical ecosystem is not indestructible and we have obligations to hold it in trust for future generations. The same is true of our metaphysical ecosystem – the values, principles, attitudes, beliefs, and shared stories on which we have founded our society. In Bird on an Ethics Wire, Margaret Somerville explores the values needed to maintain a world that reasonable people would want to live in and pass on to their descendants.

Somerville addresses the conflicts between people who espouse “progressive” values and those who uphold “traditional” ones by casting her attention on the debates surrounding “birth” (abortion and reproductive technologies) and “death” (euthanasia) and shows how words are often used as weapons. She proposes that we should seek to experience amazement, wonder and awe to enrich our lives and help us to find meaning. Such experiences, Somerville believes, can change how we see the world and live our lives, and affect the decisions we make, especially regarding values and ethics. They can help us to cope with physical or existential suffering, and ultimately put us in touch with the sacred – in either its secular or religious form – which protects what we must not destroy.

Experiencing amazement, wonder, and awe, Somerville concludes, can also generate hope, without which our spirit dies. Both individuals and societies need hope, a sense of connection to the future, if the world is to make the best decisions about values in the battles that constitute the current culture wars.

About the author

Margaret Somerville is a professor in the Faculty of Law and Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. Among her earlier books are The Ethical Canary: Science, Society and the Human Spirit (2004), and Death Talk: The Case Against Physician-Assisted Suicide (2014).


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