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Villanova Philosophy Professor Examines Permissible Killings in New Book "Uncertain Bioethics: Moral Risk and Human Dignity"

This is the book cover of "Uncertain Bioethics: Moral Risk and Human Dignity"

Under what conditions is an individual justified to believe an act of killing is permissible? And are one’s opinions on lawful killings held with much more caution than one realizes? Associate Professor of Philosophy Stephen Napier, PhD, addresses these challenging questions in his new book Uncertain Bioethics: Moral Risk and Human Dignity (Routledge, 2019).

"Stephen Napier argues with verve and subtlety for a cautious and restrained approach to acts of killing in bioethics," praises Sophie-Grace Chappell, Professor of Philosophy at The Open University UK. "Central to his argument is the difficulty of being sure that active interventions are permissible. This book intriguingly combines insights from a wide variety of different recent philosophical works of literature to offer an important and interesting contribution to numerous current debates."

Bioethics is a field of inquiry that examines how individuals make moral judgments and why arguments on various bioethical issues appear plausible to one side and false to the other. Dr. Napier's new book addresses pragmatic encroachment and peer disagreement to argue that individuals should not act upon beliefs subject to epistemic diffidence when one is considering killing human beings. 

A companion to his first publication, Virtue Epistemology: Motivation and Knowledge, Uncertain Bioethics makes a significant contribution to the bioethics literature. Dr. Napier discusses developing bioethical issues, including abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, decision-making for patients in a minimally conscious state, and risky research on competent human subjects.

"Moral risk is a function of acting on what might very well be an erroneous moral judgment," Dr. Napier explains. "Hence, the first step in this project is to articulate how our moral judgment might err."

A bioethicist and associate professor of Philosophy at Villanova University, Dr. Stephen Napier specializes in epistemology, bioethics, cognitive science of intuitions, metaphysics of persons and philosophy of religion. He was previously the Professor of Ethics at Belmont University and a Fellow in Medical Ethics at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. He holds a PhD in Philosophy from Saint Louis University. 

About Villanova University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova's colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.