In the past decade the body of literature in the area of biomedical ethics has expanded at an astounding rate. Indeed, on every major topic, the literature in this area has mUltiplied, and continues to do so, so rapidly that one can easily fall behind important advances in our thinking about and understanding of the problems of contemporary bioethics. Awareness of this need to keep apace of developments in the area prompted a recent reviewer of our earlier collection Biomedical Ethics and the Law (Plenum, 2nd edition, 1979) to suggest that somebody ought to offer the service of providing a biennial review or update of the literature on the various central topics in bioethics. Thomas Lanigan, of The Humana Press, agreed with this last sug- gestion and so asked us to edit a series of texts consisting of previously unpublished essays on selected topics, a series that would seek to re- view and update recent literature on the central topics, while also striv- ing to advance distinctive solutions to the problems on the topics under discussion. Accordingly, this first collection of previously unpublished essays focuses on the selected topics, and the authors commissioned were charged with addressing the basic problems assigned while also bringing the reader either directly or indirectly up to date on the rele- vant literature.