Bacchini, Fabio (2012) Individuals, humanity, and reproductive medicine: a bioethical reading of Milan Kundera’s Farewell Waltz. The New Bioethics: a multidisciplinary journal of biotechnology and the body, Vol. 18 (2), p. 101-114. ISSN 2050-2877. Article.
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In Milan Kundera’s novel Farewell Waltz, Doctor Skreta, a consultant at a Czechoslovakian centre for the treatment of female infertility, violates many of his patients’ rights: he is indifferent to their needs, neglects confidentiality, and is a manipulator who conducts his career as a doctor in a seriously ethically dubious way. This article claims that the cause of Skreta’s unethical conduct is his tendency to generalization and holism. He projects his moral concerns onto the wrong ontological level, paying no attention to single individuals but to an abstraction called ‘humanity.’ The same fundamental flaw in Dr. Skreta will be germane to criticisms of utilitarianism and eugenics. In fact, Skreta reveals himself to be a secret promoter of eugenics. Kundera’s novel maintains that a very ethically-involved branch of medicine could be a trap, in the case where one is unable to have the well-being of single individuals at heart, and is only morally concerned about abstract super-individual entities like ‘humanity.’
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