Dark Medicine
Now in Paperback

Dark Medicine

Rationalizing Unethical Medical Research
Edited by William R. LaFleur, Gernot Böhme, and Susumu Shimazono
Distribution: World
Publication date: 6/24/2008
Format: paper 280 pages
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-22041-7
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The trial of the "German doctors" exposed atrocities of Nazi medical science and led to the Nuremberg Code governing human experimentation. In Japan, Unit 731 carried out hideous experiments on captured Chinese and downed American pilots. In the United States, stories linger of biological experimentation during the Korean War. This collection of essays looks at the dark medical research conducted during and after World War II. Contributors describe this research, how it was brought to light, and the rationalizations of those who perpetrated and benefited from it; look at the response to the revelations of this horrific research and its implications for present-day medicine and ethics; and offer lessons about human experimentation in an age of human embryo research and genetic engineering.

Author Bio

William R. LaFleur is the E. Dale Saunders Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan.

Gernot Böhme recently retired as Professor of Philosophy at the Technical University of Darmstadt. His books in English include
Coping with Science and Ethics in Context: The Art of Dealing with Serious Questions.

Susumu Shimazono is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Tokyo and serves on the Japanese Prime Minister's Advisory Panel on Bioethics.


"Lafleur and his coeditors have assembled a very useful group of essays looking at the abuse of medical research in wartime Japan and Germany, as well as in postwar America. . . . Recommended." —Choice

"A fascinating and timely new book . . . The take-home message of the 16 contributors to Dark Medicine is that a nation's books on past episodes of unethical practice should never be fully closed, and that ethical committees in science and medicine should never neglect the historical perspective of their own and other countries." —New Scientist

". . . important issues are raised that should be considered by everyone who is interested in the history and ethics of medicine and medical research." —Charles W. Lidz, Ph.D., August 2009

"A great deal has been written in recent years about human subject research. This book is different and invaluable. Its focus is at once historical and international, bringing together commentators and scholars from a number of countries and a variety of disciplines. Human subject research raises one of the basic moral problems of modern medicine: in trying to do research to save the lives of the sick, how do we protect those whom we must use to carry out the research? This book deals richly and directly with a history of human subject research that has had many dark moments. This book will help us remember what many would prefer to forget." —Daniel Callahan, Director, International Program, The Hastings Center

"[T]his volume raises some of the most profound issues in the history of medical research. . . . important issues are raised that should be considered by everyone who is interested in the history and ethics of medicine and medical research." —Charles W. Lidz, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester,
Psychiatric Services , August 1, 2009

"Most of the articles were noteworthy insofar as they provoked the reader to ruminate

on the underlying similarities between rationalizations. Since this is the first book of its kind, it provides a handy starting point for scholars working in bioethics and, in particular, research ethics. Each article is well documented with references, and the collection includes helpful introductory and concluding essays." —Stephen Napier, National Catholic Bioethics Center,
National Catholics Bioethics Qtly , Winter 2008

"This set of powerful essays sheds light on medicine and its practitioners past, present and future and questions the headlong plunge of developed and developing societies into more and more aggressive technological attacks on illness to preserve life itself. It is truly worthwhile reading." —

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Knowledge Tree and Its Double Fruit William R. LaFleur

Part 1. The Gruesome Past and Lessons Not Yet Learned
1. Rationalizing Unethical Medical Research: Taking Seriously the Case of Viktor von Weizsäcker Gernot Böhme
2. Medical Research, Morality, and History: The German Journal Ethik and the Limits of Human Experimentation Andreas Frewer
3. Experimentation on Humans and Informed Consent: How We Arrived Where We Are Rolf Winau
4. The Silence of the Scholars Benno Müller-Hill
5. The Ethics of Evil: The Challenge and the Lessons of Nazi Medical Experiments Arthur L. Caplan
6. Unit 731 and the Human Skulls Discovered in 1989: Physicians Carrying Out Organized Crimes Kei-ichi Tsuneishi
7. Biohazard: Unit 731 in Postwar Japanese Politics of National "Forgetfulness"
Frederick R. Dickinson
8. Biological Weapons: The United States and the Korean War G. Cameron Hurst III
9. Experimental Injury: Wound Ballistics and Aviation Medicine in Mid-century America Susan Lindee
10. Stumbling Toward Bioethics: Human Experiments Policy and the Early Cold War Jonathan D. Moreno

Part 2. The Conflicted Present and the Worrisome Future
11. Toward an Ethics of Iatrogenesis Renée C. Fox
12. Strategies for Survival versus Accepting Impermanence: Rationalizing Brain Death and Organ Transplantation Today Tetsuo Yamaori
13. The Age of a "Revolutionized Human Body" and the Right to Die Yoshihiko Komatsu
14. Why We Must Be Prudent in Research Using Human Embryos: Differing Views of Human Dignity Susumu Shimazono
15. Eugenics, Reproductive Technologies, and the Feminist Dilemma in Japan Miho Ogino
16. Refusing Utopia's Bait: Research, Rationalizations, and Hans Jonas William R. LaFleur

List of Contributors