Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 79–91 | Cite as

“How dare you sport thus with life?”: Frankensteinian fictions as case studies in scientific ethics

  • Robert C. Goldbort


Fictional scenarios involving “hard” science offer what are in effect case studies of scientific ethics. From his analysis of Shelley's novel, biologist Leonard Isaacs constructed a model of a “Frankenstein scenario,” applicable to the dilemmas posed by the advancement of science in our time, as well as to fiction about science by such contemporary writers as Robin Cook and Michael Crichton. The special contribution of fiction to the study of ethics is that it both reflects and evaluates reality's infinite permutations. In reflecting and judging, the fictional scenarios engage our moral imagination and compel us to confront our personal ethos in relation to the evolving ethos of science.


Special Contribution Moral Imagination Scientific Ethic Effect Case Contemporary Writer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Shelley, M. (1818).Frankenstein. Complete, Authoritative Text of Shelley's 1831 edition. Ed. by J. M. Smith (1992). Boston: Bedford Books. 54–55.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bacon, F.The New Atlantis (1624), inThe Works of Francis Bacon, Vol. VI, Ed. by J. Spedding, R. K. Ellis, R. K., D. D. Heath (1864–1874). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lanham, R. A. (1974). “Poetic Prose” (Chapter 5), inStyle: An Anti-Textbook, New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Eiseley, L. (1978).The Star Thrower. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Selzer, R. (1974).Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery. New York: Simon and Shuster.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Snow, C. P. (1964).The Two Cultures (1959) and A Second Look Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 16.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Snow, C. P. (1934).The Search. Snow's 1958 revision. New York: New American Library, 103.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bacon, F. (1624)..Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wordsworth, W. (1798). “The Tables Turned,” inWilliam Wordsworth. Ed. by Stephen Gill, New York: Oxford University Press, 1984. 130–131.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hawthorne, N. (1844). “Rappaccini's Daughter,” inHawthorne: Selected Tales and Sketches. Third Edition. Ed. by H. H. Waggoner. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 359.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bleier, R. (1976). “Myths of the Biological Inferiority of Women: An Exploration of the Sociology of Biological Research,”The University of Michigan Papers in Women's Studies,11(2): 39–63.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hawthorne, N. (1844). “. 360.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid.. 335.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Uroff, M. D. (1972). “The Doctors in ‘Rappaccini's Daughter’,”.Nineteenth-Century Fiction 27: 61–70.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Wells, H. G. (1964).The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896). New York: Berkley.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Huxley, A. (1932).Brave New World. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Herbert, F. (1982).The White Plague, New York: Ace.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Crichton, M. (1990).Jurassic Park. New York: Ballantine. xi.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Cook, R. (1989).Mutation. New York: Berkley.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kress, N. (1990).Brainrose. New York: Avon.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Coles, R. (1989).The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 159–160.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ibid.. 204–205.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Quintilian.The Institutio Oratoria [The Education of an Orator”]. Trans. by A. E. Butler. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920. XII.i.3.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Glass, B. (1965). “The Ethical Basis of Science” inScience, Technology, and Society: Emerging Relationships. (Papers fromScience, 1949–1988). Ed. by R. Chalk. Washington, D. C.: The American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1988. 42. [Orig. inScience 150: 1254–1261.]Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Verne, J. (1962).Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870). New York: Bantam.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Stevenson, R. L. (1886).The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, inStories of the Double. Ed. by A. J. Guerard. New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1967.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Shelley, M. (1818).. 90.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Morowitz, H. J. (1979). Frankenstein and Recombinant DNA,” inThe Wine of Life and Other Essays on Societies, Energy & Living Things. New York: Bantam. 164.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Isaacs, L. (1987). “Creation and Responsibility in Science: Some Lessons from the Modern Prometheus,” inCreativity and the Imagination: Case Studies from the Classical Age to the Twentieth Century, Ed. by Mark Amsler. Newark: University of Delaware Press. 63.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Ibid.. 102.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ibid.. 76–77.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Crichton, M. (1990).. 150.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Shelley, M. (1818).. 140–141.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Morowitz, H. J. (1979).. 163. [Orig. in E. Chargaff (1976),Science 192. 940]Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Ibid.. 164.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Crichton, M. (1990).. 284.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Ibid.. 313.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ibid.. 392.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Cook, R. (1989).. 299.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Ibid.. 299.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Ibid.. 299.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Crichton, M. (1972).Terminal Man. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Cook, R. (1983).Godplayer. New York: New American Library.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Pieczenik, S. (1988).Blood Heat. New York: Warner.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Palmer, M. (1988).Flashback. New York: Bantam.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Crichton, M. (1990).. 75.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    McMahon, T. (1970).Principles of American Nuclear Chemistry: A Novel. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Smith, M. C. (1986).Stallion Gate. New York: Ballantine.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Cook, R. (1992).Blindsight. New York: Putnam.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Bernstein, R. (1976).The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    King, J. (1986). “The Three Faces of Thinking.”Journal of Higher Education 57.1 85.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Whitehead, A. N. (1959).Aims of Education. New York: Macmillan. 84–85.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Glass, B. (1965). “. (Papers fromScience, 1949–1988). Ed. by R. Chalk. Washington, D.C.: The American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1988, 37. [Orig. inScience 150: 1254–1261.]Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert C. Goldbort
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishIndiana State UniversityTerre Haute

Personalised recommendations