US philosopher and biomedical ethicist. His primary areas of research interest were in the use of new technologies in health care, transplantation, genetics, human experimentation, and long-term care.
He was born in Boston, Massachusetts. After taking his BA at Brandeis (1971), he took an M.A., M.Phil., and PhD (1979) at Columbia University. While at Columbia he served on the faculty of the university's medical school, school of public health, and journalism school. He also taught at the University of Pittsburgh (1986). He then joined the Hastings Center (Briarcliff Manor, New York) as associate for humanities (1977–84), becoming associate director (1985–87). He became director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Minnesota, where he was also a professor of philosophy (1987–94). He went on to become director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania (1994). He served as a consultant to many organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Technology Assessment, and the Clinton Health Policy Task Force Ethics Working Group (1993). He wrote a syndicated column on bioethics, carried in some 40 newspapers in the USA and abroad, and was a frequent guest and much-quoted spokesperson in the national media whenever issues of bioethics came to the fore. He has edited or written many books articles on biomedical ethics, health policy, and the history and philosophy of health care, including When Medicine Went Mad: Bioethics and the Holocaust (1992) and If I Were a Rich Man Could I Buy a Pancreas (1992).