Leon Kass drives many bioethicists into teeth-grinding rage. At first blush, this seems odd. He is one of the world's foremost philosophers. He was a founding member of the Hastings Center, probably the world's most influential bioethics think tank. He has authored abundant thought-provoking articles and books, spanning decades, and has provided much grist for the never quiescent mill of bioethics debate. He is a university professor, presidential adviser as chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and is celebrated internationally as a first rate philosopher, lecturer, and public intellectual.
That's an impressive biography. So what is it about Kass that upsets so many bioethicists, other than perhaps, a touch of professional jealousy? Simply this: Kass eloquently and forcefully that human life has intrinsic moral value simply because it is human. This flies in the face of the predominate ideology of contemporary bioethics that disdains human exceptionalism as arbitrary, irrational, human-centric, and indeed, an act of discrimination against animals known as "speciesism."
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