US philosopher and medical ethicist. His particular concerns are reflected in the title of the over 30 books he has written or edited, including Ethics in Hard Times (1982), Setting Limits: Medical Goals in an Aging Society (1987), and Abortion: Understanding Differences (with his wife, Sidney Callahan, 1984).
He was born in Washington, DC. After graduating from Yale in 1952, he went on to take an M.A. from Georgetown and a PhD in philosophy from Harvard (1965). He served as executive editor of Commonweal 1961–68, and then was an associate at the Population Council in New York City 1969–70. Drawing on his experiences there and his formal training in philosophy, in 1969 he cofounded and directed the Institute for Social Ethics and the Life Sciences at the Hastings Center (Briarcliff Manor, New York), a research and educational organization. He was a guest professor at numerous universities and a consultant to various governmental and private committees dealing with his areas of expertise.