Leon Kass on the Sciences and the Humanities

On May 22, 2009, New Atlantis contributor Dr. Leon Kass delivered the Jefferson Lecture, the prestigious lecture hosted each year by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He used the occasion to describe his path from the sciences to the humanities.

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Leon R. Kass

Leon R. Kass is the Madden-Jewett Chair at the American Enterprise Institute and the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He was a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2002 to 2007, and its chairman from 2002 to 2005.

In The New Atlantis

‘The Unique Worth of an Individual Human Life’

Number 27 ~ Spring 2010

The Right to Life and Human Dignity

Number 16 ~ Spring 2007

Science, Technology, and The Public Interest

Number 9 ~ Summer 2005

Human Frailty and Human Dignity

Number 7 ~ Fall 2004 - Winter 2005

Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls

Number 1 ~ Spring 2003


  • What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song, ed. with Amy Kass and Diana Schaub (ISI, 2011)
  • The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis (Free Press, 2003)
  • Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics (Encounter, 2002)
  • Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying, ed. with Amy Kass (Notre Dame, 2000)
  • The Ethics of Human Cloning, with James Q. Wilson (AEI, 1998)
  • Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs (Free Press, 1995)
  • The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature (Free Press, 1994)

  • Other Publications

  • “The Ten Commandments: Why the Decalogue Matters,” Mosaic Magazine, June 2013
  • Co-author, with Amy Kass, “Take Time to Remember,” Weekly Standard, May 29, 2011
  • “The Significance of Veterans Day,” Weekly Standard, November 11, 2011
  • Amicus Curiae Brief In Support of Petitioners in Hollingsworth v. Perry, January 29, 2013
  • “Forbidding Science: Some Beginning Reflections,” Science and Engineering Ethics, September 2009
  • “Looking for an Honest Man: Reflections of an Unlicensed Humanist,” 38th Annual Jefferson Lecture, National Endowment for the Humanities, May 22, 2009
  • “Why Even Atheists Should Appreciate the Ten Commandments,” Bradley Lecture Series, American Enterprise Institute, January 12, 2009
  • “A Truer Humanism,” Azure, Autumn 2008
  • “Keeping Life Human: Science, Religion, and the Soul,” Azure, Spring 2008
  • “For the Love of the Game,” The New Republic, March 26, 2008
  • “Defending Life and Dignity,” Weekly Standard, February 25, 2008
  • “Brave New Future,” National Review Online, November 21, 2007
  • “Science, Religion, and the Human Future,” Commentary, April 5, 2007
  • “Cast Me Not Off in Old Age,” Commentary, January 2006
  • “Lingering Longer: Who Will Care?,” Washington Post, September 29, 2005
  • “A Way Forward on Stem Cells,” Washington Post, July 12, 2005
  • “What Price the Perfect Baby?,” Science, July 9, 1971
  • “Problems in the Meaning of Death,” Science, December 11, 1970
  • “Playing Politics with the Sick,” Washington Post, October 8, 2004
  • “Reproduction and Responsibility,” Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2004
  • “We Don’t Play Politics with Science,” Washington Post, March 3, 2004
  • “The Price of Winning at Any Cost,” Washington Post Outlook, February 1, 2004
  • “The Pursuit of Biohappiness,” Washington Post, October 16, 2003
  • “NOW with Bill Moyers,” PBS, July 25, 2003
  • “How One Clone Leads to Another,” New York Times, January 24, 2003
  • “The Age of Genetic Technology Arrives,” American Spectator, November—December 2002
  • “The End of Courtship,” The Public Interest, September 23, 2002
  • “Stop All Cloning of Humans for Four Years,” Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2002
  • “Defending Dignity,” Christianity Today, May 23, 2002
  • “The Meaning of Life—In the Laboratory,” The Public Interest, January 1, 2002
  • “The Public’s Stake,” The Public Interest, January 1, 2003
  • “The Ethics of Cloning,” Testimony Before United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, June 7, 2001
  • “Fanning Real Desire,” American Enterprise Institute Online, June 1, 2000
  • “Revive Courtship for Seeking Love,” Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2000
  • “Triumph or Tragedy,” Commentary, January 1, 2000
  • “Proposing Courtship,” First Things, October 1999
  • “Why we should ban the cloning of human beings,” Texas Review of Law & Politics, Fall 1999
  • “The Moral Meaning of Genetic Technology,” Commentary, September 1999
  • “Love of Woman and Love of God: The Case of Jacob,” Commentary, March 1999
  • “Beyond Biology,” New York Times, August 23, 1998
  • “Wisdom of Repugnance,” The New Republic, June 2, 1997
  • “Courting Death: Assisted Suicide, Doctors, and the Law,” Commentary, December 1996
  • “The Troubled Dream of Nature as a Moral Guide.,” Hastings Center Report, November/December 1996
  • “Physician-Assisted Suicide, Medical Ethics, and the Future of the Medical Profession,” Duquesne Law Review, Fall 1996
  • “Dehumanization Triumphant,” First Things, August/September 1996
  • “A Genealogy of Justice,” Commentary, July 1996
  • “Farmers, Founders, and Fratricide: The Story of Cain and Abel,” First Things, April 1996
  • “What’s Your Name,” First Things, November 1995
  • “Intelligence and the Social Scientist,” Public Interest, Summer 1995
  • “Appreciating The Phenomenon of Life,” Hastings Center Report, June 17, 1995
  • “Educating Father Abraham: The Meaning of Fatherhood,” First Things, December 1994
  • “Educating Father Abraham: The Meaning of Wife,” First Things, November 1994
  • “Why the Dietary Laws?,” Commentary, June 1994
  • “Is There a Right to Die?,” Hastings Center Report, January—February 1993
  • “Seeing the Nakedness of His Father,” Commentary, June 1992
  • “Regarding Daughters and Sisters,” Commentary, April 1992
  • “I Will Give No Deadly Drug,” American College of Surgeons Bulletin, March 1992
  • “Organs For Sale?,” Public Interest, Spring 1992
  • “Suicide Made Easy,” Commentary, December 1991
  • “Man and Woman: An Old Story,” First Things, November 1991
  • “A Woman for All Seasons,” Commentary, September 1991
  • “Why Doctors Must Not Kill,” Commonweal, August 9, 1991
  • “Death with Dignity and the Sanctity of Life,” Commentary, March 1990
  • “Practicing Ethics: Where's the Action?,” Hastings Center Report, January—February 1990
  • “Neither for Love nor Money: Why Doctors Must Not Kill,” The Public Interest, Winter 1989
  • “Doctors Must Not Kill,” Journal of the American Medical Assocation, April 8, 1988
  • “Thinking About the Body,” Hastings Center Report, February 1985
  • “Professing Ethically,” Journal of the American Medical Association, March 11, 1983
  • “The Case for Morality,” American Scholar, Spring 1983
  • “Patenting Life,” Commentary, December 1981
  • “Change and Permanence,” In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology, December 1981
  • “Ethical Dilemmas in the Care of the Ill II.,” Journal of the American Medical Association, October 24, 1980
  • “Ethical Dilemmas in the Care of the Ill I.,” Journal of the American Medical Association, October 17, 1980
  • “Making Babies Revisited,” Public Interest, Winter 1979
  • “Regarding the End of Medicine and the Pursuit of Health,” Public Interest, Summer 1975
  • “Averting One’s Eyes, or Facing the Music?,” The Hastings Center Studies, May 1974
  • “The New Biology,” Science, November 1971
  • “Babies by Means of In Vitro Fertilization,” New England Journal of Medicine, January 1, 1971