The Ethics of Human Cloning

– With James Q. Wilson, American Enterprise Institute Press, June 1, 1998.
Today biological science is rising on a wall of worry. No other science has advanced more dramatically during the past several decades or yielded so many palpable improvements in human… More

Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry

– The President's Council on Bioethics, Washington, DC, July 2002.
Excerpt: Man’s biotechnological powers are expanding in scope, at what seems an accelerating pace. Many of these powers are double-edged, offering help for human suffering, yet… More

The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis

– Free Press, 2003.
Summary: As ardent debates over creationism fill the front pages of newspapers, Genesis has never been more timely. And as Leon R. Kass shows in The Beginning of Wisdom, it’s also… More

Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness

– The President's Council on Bioethics, Washington, DC, October 2003.
Excerpt: Biotechnology offers exciting and promising prospects for healing the sick and relieving the suffering. But exactly because of their impressive powers to alter the workings of body… More

Monitoring Stem Cell Research

– The President's Council on Bioethics, Washington, DC, January 2004.
Excerpt: I am pleased to present to you Monitoring Stem Cell Research, a report of the President’s Council on Bioethics. Over the past two years, in keeping with your stated intention,… More

Taking Care: Ethical Caregiving in Our Aging Society

– The President's Council on Bioethics, Washington, DC, September 2005.
Excerpt: American society is aging—dramatically, rapidly, and largely well. More and more people are living healthily into their seventies and eighties, many well into their nineties.… More

Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver: Honoring the Work of Leon R. Kass

– Yuval Levin, Thomas W. Merrill, and Adam Schulman, eds. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, May 25, 2010.
Summary: Leon R. Kass has been helping Americans better understand the human condition for over four decades—as a teacher, writer, scholar, public champion of the humanities, and defender… More

Leading a Worthy Life

– Leon Kass, Leading a Worthy life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times, (New York: Encounter, 2017).
This work is a collection of old and new essays by one of America’s leading thinkers. A true tour-de-force, it offers an excellent introduction to the great themes of Leon… More


Letter on the Civil Rights Movement

– Letter, Summer 1965, reprinted by
Excerpt: In the summer of 1965, while the Voting Rights Act was being enacted, the editors of this volume, Amy Apfel Kass (b. 1940; then a high school history teacher in Lincoln-Sudbury,… More

ß-Hydroxydecanoyl-Thioester Dehydrase II: Modes of action

– With D. J. H. Brock and K. Bloch, Journal of Biological Chemistry 242:4432-4440, 1967.
Abstract The β-hydroxydecanoyl thioester dehydrase of Escherichia coli has a high degree of chain length specificity, catalyzing the dehydration of β-hydroxydecanoyl-N-acetylcysteamine… More

Parallel Behavior of F and Pl in Causing Induction of lysogenic Bacteria

– With J. L. Rosner and M. B. Yarmolinsky,  Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology 33:785-789, 1968.
Excerpt: Induction of lysogenic bacteria may be accomplished by a variety of means, all of which involve the loss or inactivation of a prophage-specific system of repression. Thus, in… More

Problems in the Meaning of Death

Science 170:1235-1236, 1970.
Excerpt: The meaning of death is an abiding human problem. It is perhaps the first such problem, and certainly one of the oldest. Confrontation with dead bodies has been credited by… More

What Price the Perfect Baby?

Science 173:103, 1971 (Letter).
Excerpt: In defending himself against the charges made by Rudolf Steinberger (Letters, 9 April), Bentley Glass states that he was merely predicting and not advocating that future state… More

Death as an Event: A Commentary on Robert Morison

Science 173:698-702, 1971.
Abstract: 1) We have no need to abandon either the concept of death as an event or the efforts to set forth reasonable criteria for determining that a man has indeed died. 2) We need to… More

New Beginnings in Life

– In M.P. Hamilton, ed., The New Genetics and the Future of Man (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1972), 13-63.

Refinements in Criteria for the Determination of Death

– A Report by the Task Force on Death and Dying of the Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences, Journal of the American Medical Association 221:48‑53, 1972.
Excerpt: The growing powers of medicine to combat disease and to prolong life have brought longer, healthier lives to many people. They have also brought new and difficult problems,… More

Determining Death and Viability in Fetuses and Abortuses

– In Research on the Fetus, Appendix, The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Publication No. (OS) 76-128, 1975.

Regarding the End of Medicine and the Pursuit of Health

The Public Interest, Number 40:11-42, Summer 1975.
Excerpt: American medicine is not well. Though it remains the most widely respected of professions, though it has never been more competent technically, it is in trouble, both from without… More

The Ethical Dimensions of in Vitro Fertilization

– American Enterprise Institute Press, 1 January 1979.
A Conversation with Dr. Leon Kass: The Ethical Dimensions of in Vitro Fertilization is the edited transcript of a discussion of the ethics and policy issues of research on so-called test… More

“Making Babies” Revisited

The Public Interest, Number 54:32-60, Winter 1979.
Excerpt: Seven years ago in the pages of this journal, in an article entitled “Making Babies-the New Biology and the ‘Old’ Morality” (Number 26, Winter 1972), I explored some of the… More

Ethical Problems of the New Biology

– Review of Life Manipulation: From Test-tube Babies to Aging by David G. Lygre, Chemical & Engineering News, September 15, 1980, 47-48.

Ethical Dilemmas in the Care of the III

Journal of the American Medical Association 244:1811-1816 (Part I: “What Is the Physician’s Service?”) and 244:1946-1949 (Part II: “What Is the Patient’s Good?”), 1980.
Abstract: Physicians must continue to rely on their own powers of discernment and prudent judgment and not look to external “expert” guidance or expect simple solutions in… More

Patenting Life

Commentary, December 1981.
Abstract: Every once in a while, we come upon an event of seemingly minor import which, on reflection, turns out to betoken deep and problematic truths about our culture. The “Patenting… More

Doctors Must Not Kill

– With W. Gaylin, E.D. Pellegrino, and M. Siegler, Journal of the American Medical Association 259:2139-40, April 8, 1988.

What’s Wrong with Babel?

The American Scholar 58 (1): 41-60, Winter 1989.
Abstract: Traces the history of God’s working with the people of Israel. Book of Genesis, which teaches God as creator and authority, and man as seeking independence and… More

Neither for Love Nor Money: Why Doctors Must Not Kill

The Public Interest, Number 94:25-46, Winter 1989.
Excerpt: Is the profession of medicine ethically neutral? If so, whence shall we derive the moral norms or principles to govern its practices? If not, how are the norms of professional… More

Death with Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Commentary, March 1990.
Abstract: Dedicated to the memory of my mother, Chana Kass (1903-1989), my first and best teacher regarding human dignity. “Call no man happy until he is dead.” With these deliberately… More

A Woman for All Seasons

Commentary, September 1991.
Abstract: One often hears it said, and not only by outsiders, that Judaism is a male-dominated religion that does not properly appreciate its women. The blame for this attitude, say many… More

Man and Woman: An Old Story

First Things, November 1991.
Excerpt: Man and woman. What are they, and why—each alone and both together? How are they alike and how different? How much is difference due to nature, how much to culture? What… More

‘I Will Give No Deadly Drug’: Why Doctors Must Not Kill

American College of Surgeons Bulletin 17:3, March 1992. Updated and reprinted in Kathleen Foley, M.D. and Herbert Hendin, M.D., ed., The Case Against Assisted Suicide (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 17-40. 

Regarding Daughters and Sisters: The Rape of Dinah

Commentary, April 1992.
Abstract: Ever since I was a boy, long before I had a wife and daughters, I have always thought and keenly felt that rape is a capital offense, a crime worse even than murder. For the… More

Seeing the Nakedness of His Father

Commentary, June 1992.
Abstract: Standing in the large men’s locker room of the National Capitol YMCA, getting dressed after my swim and shower, I overheard a conversation taking place out of my sight, on the… More

The Problem of Technology

– In Arthur Melzer, Jerry Weinberger, and M. Richard Zinman, eds., Technology and the Western Political Tradition (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), 1-24.

Is There a Right to Die?

Hastings Center Report 23 (1):34-43, January/February, 1993. A slightly different version appears in Robert A. Licht, ed., Old Rights and New, Washington, DC: AEI Press, 1993, 75-95.

Living Dangerously

– AEI Bradley Lecture Series, 14 March 1994.
Excerpt: The importance of accepting and fostering personal moral responsibility leads me to say, for openers, that I do not see myself as my foolish brother’s keeper. Neither do I… More

Why the Dietary Laws?

Commentary, June 1994.
Abstract: A core document of Western civilization, the Torah or Pentateuch has at its center a set of dietary regulations, presented in the eleventh chapter of Leviticus. Though these now… More

Educating Father Abraham: The Meaning of Wife

First Things, November 1994.
Excerpt: It is not exactly traditional to speak about the education of Abraham. Pious tales of the patriarch regard him as a precocious monotheist even before God calls him, a man who… More

Educating Father Abraham: The Meaning of Fatherhood

First Things, December 1994.
Excerpt: My theme is the education of the patriarch Abraham, Father of Judaism, father of Christianity, father of Islam. God Himself undertakes Abraham’s education in order to address and… More

Comment on “The Giving Tree”

– Contribution to Symposium, First Things, 49:42-43, January 1995.
Excerpt: Several reasons could be offered for reading The Giving Tree to one’s children. It conveys important truths about our human situation and about human giving. It might… More

Intelligence and the Social Scientist

The Public Interest, Number 120:64-78, Summer 1995.
Excerpt: Once upon a time, before science and society got into bed together, serious attention was given to the question of dangerous knowledge. First it was an issue between philosophy and… More

What’s Your Name?

– With Amy A. Kass, First Things, November 1995.
Excerpt: The authors of this essay on names have just identified themselves. Well, not quite. For the sake of full disclosure, they are willing to have it known that they have the same last… More

Charity and the Confines of Compassion

Philanthropy X (2): 5-7 & 28-31, Spring 1996. Reprinted in Amy A. Kass, ed. The Perfect Gift: The Philanthropic Imagination in Poetry and Prose (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002).

A Genealogy of Justice

Commentary, July 1996.
Abstract: All morally serious people care generally about justice. And when its apparent absence touches them directly, all people, serious or not, find themselves eager for justice. Even… More

Dehumanization Triumphant

First Things, August/September 1996.
Excerpt: Recent efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide and to establish a constitutional “right to die” are deeply troubling events, morally dubious in themselves, extremely… More

Courting Death: Assisted Suicide, Doctors, and the Law

– With Nelson Lund, Commentary, December 1996.
Abstract: That we die is certain. When and how we die is not. Because we want to live and not to die, we resort to medicine to delay the inevitable. Yet medicine’s increasing success in… More

The Aims of Liberal Education

– In John Boyer, ed., The Aims of Education (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1997), 81-106.
Excerpt: What, then, could be left for the aim of liberal education if we exclude professional training, research and scholarship, general broadening and culture, the arts of learning, and… More

The End of Courtship

The Public Interest, Number 126:39–63, Winter 1997.
Excerpt: In the current wars over the state of American culture, few battlegrounds have seen more action than that of “family values”–sex, marriage, and child-rearing.… More

Beyond Biology

– Review of Brave New Worlds: Staying Human in the Genetic Future by Bryan Appleyard, The New York Times Book Review, August 23, 1998.
Excerpt: During the decades after World War II, two powerfully disturbing novels captured the imagination of those of us who were apprehensive about the human future: George Orwell’s… More

Evolution and the Bible: Genesis I Revisited

Commentary, November 1988.
Abstract: These tensions between science and religion, never absent yet recently grown strong, nowadays focus mainly on the subject of evolution and its meaning for the Bible.

The Ethics of Human Cloning

The American Enterprise, March 1, 1999.
Social critics James Q. Wilson and Leon Kass debate the social, psychological and ethical ramifications of human cloning. Wilson supports limited cloning to two-parent heterosexual… More

Why We Should Ban the Cloning of Human Beings

Texas Review of Law & Politics 4(1): 41-49, Fall 1999.
Excerpt: “To clone or not to clone a human being” is no longer a fanciful question. Success in cloning first sheep, then cows, and most recently, great success in cloning mice… More

The Moral Meaning of Genetic Technology

Commentary, September 1999. Reprinted in The American Journal of Jurisprudence 45:1-16, 2000.
Abstract: As one contemplates the current and projected state of genetic knowledge and technology, one is astonished by how far we have come in the less than 50 years since Watson and Crick… More

Proposing Courtship

– With Amy A. Kass, First Things, October 1999.
Excerpt: Anyone interested in improving relations between men and women today and tomorrow must proceed by taking a page from yesterday. For today’s tale regarding manhood and womanhood… More

Revive Courtship for Seeking Love

– With Amy A. Kass, Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2000.
Excerpt: Last Tuesday’s television program “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire” hit a new low, trivializing marriage as entertainment. But the huge size of its… More

Aldous Huxley Brave New World (1932)

First Things, March 2000.
Excerpt: The urgency of the great political struggles of the twentieth century, successfully waged against totalitarianisms first right and then left, seems to have blinded many people to a… More

Fanning Real Desire

– Panel discussion, American Enterprise Institute Online, June 1, 2000.
The following remarks are excerpted from a recent American Enterprise Institute discussion of Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar, a new anthology of “readings on courting and marrying” by… More

L’Chaim and Its Limits: Why Not Immortality?

First Things, May 2001.
Excerpt: You don’t have to be Jewish to drink L’Chaim, to lift a glass “To Life.” Everyone in his right mind believes that life is good and that death is bad. But Jews have always… More

The Ethics of Cloning

– Testimony Before United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, June 7, 2001.
Excerpt: Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. My name is Leon Kass, and I am the Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of… More

Ban Stand

– With Daniel Callahan, The New Republic, August 6, 2001.
Excerpt: Everyone has been arguing for weeks about whether President Bush should authorize funding for research on human embryonic stem cells. But few have noticed the much more momentous… More

Brave New Biology: The Challenge for Human Dignity

– London: The Institute of United States Studies, 2002.
Excerpt: The urgency of the great political struggles of the twentieth century and the new global struggle against terrorism and fanaticism seems to have blinded many people to a deep truth… More

The Right to Life and Human Dignity

– In Kenneth L. Vaux, Sara Vaux, and Mark Stenberg, eds., Covenants of Life: Contemporary Medical Ethics in Light of the Thought of Paul Ramsey (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002), 57-69. Revised and reprinted in Svetozar Minkov, ed., Enlightening Revolutions: Essays in Honor of Ralph Lerner (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2006), 127-141.

Defending Dignity

Christianity Today, May 23, 2002.
Excerpt: Condensed from an interview with Leon Kass, head of President Bush’s Advisory Council on Bioethics, and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The interview was… More

Stop All Cloning of Humans For Four Years

Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2002.
Excerpt: For the past five years, the prospect of human cloning has been the subject of much public attention and sharp moral debate. Several mammalian species have been cloned; the first… More

The Age of Genetic Technology Arrives

American Spectator, November-December 2002.
Excerpt: As one contemplates the current and projected state of genetic knowledge and technology, one is astonished by how far we have come…

The Meaning of Life in the Laboratory

Public Interest 146: Winter 2002.
Excerpt: The readers of Aldous Huxley’s novel, like the inhabitants of the society it depicts, enter into the Brave New World through “a squat gray building … the Central London… More

How One Clone Leads to Another

New York Times, January 24, 2003.
Excerpt: The failure of the last Congress to enact a ban on human cloning casts grave doubt on our ability to govern the unethical uses of biotechnology, even when it threatens things we… More

Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls

The New Atlantis (Spring 2003).
Excerpt: Let me begin by offering a toast to biomedical science and biotechnology: May they live and be well. And may our children and grandchildren continue to reap their ever tastier… More

The Pursuit of Biohappiness

Washington Post, October 16, 2003.
Excerpt: By all accounts, we are entering the golden age of biotechnology. Advances in genetics, drug discovery and regenerative medicine promise cures for dreaded diseases and relief for… More

The Public’s Stake

– Symposium, Biotechnology: A House Divided, Public Interest 150: Winter 2003.
Excerpt: For the first six months of this year, the President’s Council on  Bioethics met to consider the moral, biomedical, and human significance of human cloning in order to advise… More

The Price of Winning at Any Cost

– With Eric Cohen, Washington Post Outlook, February 1, 2004.
Excerpt: It’s Super Bowl Sunday. A day of hype and heroics. Big money and bragging rights. In all likelihood, more people will watch Super Bowl XXXVIII on television than will vote in the… More

We Don’t Play Politics with Science

Washington Post, March 3, 2004.
Excerpt: Even before the President’s Council on Bioethics had its first meeting in January 2002, charges were flying that the council was stacked with political and religious… More

Reproduction and Responsibility

Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2004.
Excerpt: New biotechnologies are providing new capacities for altering human reproduction, especially with life initiated outside the body. The intersection of assisted reproduction with… More

Human Frailty and Human Dignity

The New Atlantis (Fall 2004-Winter 2005).
Excerpt: In the aftermath of an election season, with the question of stem cell research in the public eye and demagogued in the most awful way, Eric Cohen has chosen to ask more… More

Playing Politics With the Sick

Washington Post, October 8, 2004.
Excerpt: Stem cell research is again a hot political issue. Scientists, biotech companies and patients’ groups continue their public relations campaign to force President Bush to… More

Reflections on Public Bioethics: A View from the Trenches

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 15 (3): 221-250, 2005.
Abstract: For many reasons, and more than its predecessors, the President’s Council on Bioethics has been the subject of much public attention and heated controversy. But little of… More

A Way Forward on Stem Cells

Washington Post, July 12, 2005.
Excerpt: The stem cell wars have heated up again, with the next skirmish due shortly on the Senate floor. Once again scientists and patients’ advocates, eager to garner maximum… More

Lingering Longer: Who Will Care?

Washington Post, September 29, 2005.
Excerpt: American society is aging — dramatically, rapidly and, largely, well. More and more of us are living healthily into our seventies and eighties, many well into our nineties.… More

Cast Me Not Off in Old Age

Commentary (January 2006).
Excerpt: Death and dying are once again subjects of intense public attention. During his confirmation hearings, Chief Justice John Roberts was grilled about his views on removing… More

Science, Religion, and the Human Future

Commentary (April 2007).
Excerpt: Western civilization would not be Western civilization were it not for biblical religion, which reveres and trusts in the one God, Who has made known what He wants of human beings… More

The Right to Life and Human Dignity

The New Atlantis (Spring 2007).
Excerpt: Issues of individual rights tend to stand at the very center of legal disputes and moral debates in the United States. This is no accident, for “rights talk” is as American as… More

Brave New Future

– Symposium, National Review Online, November 21, 2007.
Excerpt: LEON R. KASS Reprogramming of human somatic cells to pluripotency is an enormously significant achievement, one that boosters of medical progress and defenders of human dignity can… More

Defending Human Dignity

Commentary, December 2007. Revised and reprinted in Human Dignity and Bioethics: Essays Commissioned by the President's Council on Bioethics (Washington DC, 2008), 297-331.
Abstract: In contrast to continental Europe, human dignity has never been a powerful idea in American public discourse. We tend instead to be devoted to the language of rights and the… More

How Brave a New World?

– 2007 Convocation Address, St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland. Reprinted in Society 45 (1): 5-8 (February 2008).
Excerpt: Surveying the world you graduates are about to enter, I am reminded of the ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” My own time has been interesting… More

Defending Life and Dignity

Weekly Standard, February 25, 2008.
Excerpt: In his State of the Union address President Bush spoke briefly on matters of life and science. He stated his intention to expand funding for new possibilities in medical research,… More

For the Love of the Game

– With Eric Cohen. The New Republic, March 26, 2008.
Excerpt: The Super Bowl is over. March Madness is fast approaching, with NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs close behind. Spring training for the new baseball season has begun. Year after year,… More

A Truer Humanism

Azure 5769, no. 34 (Autumn 2008).
Abstract: Science gives us many gifts, but it cannot keep us from losing our souls in the bargain.

Looking for an Honest Man: Reflections of an Unlicensed Humanist

– 38th Annual Jefferson Lecture for the National Endowment for the Humanities, 21 May 2009.
Excerpt: It is true that I have long been devoted to liberal education, and along with my wife, Amy Kass, and a few other colleagues at the University of Chicago, I helped found a… More

Forbidding Science: Some Beginning Reflections

Science and Engineering Ethics 15 (3):271-282, 2009.
Abstract: Growing powers to manipulate human bodies and minds, not merely to heal disease but to satisfy desires, control deviant behavior, and to change human nature, make urgent questions… More

The Unique Worth of an Individual Human Life

The New Atlantis (Spring 2010).
Excerpt: The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network selected Leon R. Kass, M.D. to receive its Paul Ramsey Award for 2010 — an award honoring those “who have demonstrated exemplary… More

Take Time to Remember

Weekly Standard, May 29, 2011.
Excerpt: American identity, character, and civic life are shaped by many things, but decisive among them are our national memories—of our long history, our triumphs and tragedies, our… More

What’s the Point of Flag Day?

– National Review Online, June 14, 2011.
Excerpt: Flag Day is unusual. Commemorating the birthday of the American flag, adopted in the midst of the American Revolution by the Second Continental Congress, Flag Day is not an… More

What Silent Cal Said About the Fourth of July

Wall Street Journal, 1 July 2011.
Excerpt: Parades. Backyard barbecues. Fireworks. This is how many of us will celebrate the Fourth of July. In earlier times, the day was also marked with specially prepared orations… More

The Significance of Veterans Day

Weekly Standard, 14 November 2011.
Excerpt: What exactly do we celebrate on Veterans Day? To be sure, we mean to honor the brave men and women, living and dead, who have fought America’s battles, past and present. But… More

Cancer and Mortality: Making Time Count

– Rebecca Dresser, ed., Malignant: Medical Ethicists Confront Cancer, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 179-194.
Excerpt: All human beings are mortal, and nearly all of us know it. But for most of us, through much of our lives, this knowledge remains largely below the level of consciousness. The… More

The Other War on Poverty

– “The Other War on Poverty: Finding Meaning in America,” 2012 Irving Kristol Lecture, American Enterprise Institute, May 2, 2012.
Excerpt: On this occasion twenty years ago, in his Boyer Lecture entitled “The Cultural Revolution and the Capitalist Future,” Irving Kristol explored the growing gap between our… More

The Ten Commandments: Why the Decalogue Matters

Mosaic (June 2013).
Excerpt: The biblical book of Genesis presents the story of how God’s new way for humankind finds its first adherent in a single individual-Abraham, a man out of Mesopotamia-and how… More

A Reply to My Respondents, and My Friends

Mosaic Magazine, June 27, 2013.
Excerpt: I thank Michael Fishbane, Peter Berkowitz, Gilbert Meilaender, and Meir Soloveichik for their generous treatment of my essay, for their serious engagement with its themes,… More

The People-Forming Passover

– Leon Kass, "The People-Forming Passover," Mosaic, April 6, 2020.
Excerpt: The essay below is adapted from Founding God’s Nation: Reading Exodus by Leon R. Kass, forthcoming from Yale University Press in January 2021. The biblical book of Exodus,… More

Exodus and American Nationhood

– Leon Kass, "Exodus and American Nationhood," Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2021.
What makes a people a people? What forms their communal identity, holds them together, guides their lives? To what do they look up? For what should they strive? These questions have risen… More


Seeking to Balance Values of Science and Humanity

– Pam Belluck, New York Times, August 11, 2001.
Excerpt: As one might expect, Dr. Leon Richard Kass, the University of Chicago professor who will head President Bush’s council on bioethics, has written on subjects like cloning,… More

The Crimson Birthmark

– William Safire, New York Times, January 21, 2002.
Excerpt: he novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne took a crack at the troubling ”Frankenstein” theme of man’s presumption to gain godly power in an 1843 short story, ”The… More

The Puzzle of Leon Kass

– Dana Wilkie, Crisis Magazine, June 2002.
Excerpt: Kass is indeed highly opinionated and unlikely to be swayed from his views, but he earns high marks from associates for his open-minded approach to the stickiest moral questions.… More

The Pathos of the Kass Report

– Peter Berkowitz, Policy Review, October/November 2002.
Excerpt: An anticipation of the first report of the President’s Council on Bioethics, critics on the left and not a few right-wing libertarians had been sharpening their swords and… More

The Career of Leon Kass by Harvey Flaumenhaft

– Harvey Flaumenhaft, Journal of Contemporary Health Law & Policy 20:1 (2003).
Excerpt: What has gone into making the remarkable career of Leon Kass? In sketching an answer to that question, it will be helpful for me to take account of what he himself has publicly had… More

Who’s Afraid of Leon Kass? by Gary Rosen

– Gary Rosen, Commentary,  January 2003.
Abstract: In the summer of 2001, as the Bush administration prepared to announce its much-anticipated decision on federal funding for stem-cell research, the White House began to leak word… More

Leon Kass and the Genesis of Wisdom by Alan Jacobs

– Alan Jacobs, First Things, June/July 2003.
Excerpt: Leon Kass’ meditation on the wisdom of Genesis is expansive, curious, fascinatingly rich and digressive. This I claim without reservation, but my next claim begins with a… More

Leon Kass, a Bioethics Legend, Steps Down

– Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Christianity Today, September 21, 2005.
Excerpt: While Kass’s tenure has been stormy (the mainstream press has alternated between ignoring and misrepresenting the council’s work), his achievement has been unique.… More

Living Old Interview with Leon Kass

– Edited transcript, Living Old, PBS, March 7, 2006.
Excerpt: Describe what’s happening with the new rising elderly population in the United States. One way to put it would be to say that we’re on the threshold of the first-ever… More

In Qualified Praise of the Leon Kass Council on Bioethics

– Carl Mitchum, Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 10 (6) (Fall 2006).
Abstract: This paper argues the distinctiveness of the President’s Council on Bioethics, as chaired by Leon Kass. The argument proceeds by seeking to place the Council in proper… More

Leon Kass Interview

Humanities (May/June 2008).
Excerpt: Chicago-born Leon Kass, the 2009 Jefferson Lecturer, sat with Humanities magazine to describe how as a young medical doctor he joined the civil rights movement, then changed course… More

Great Expectations: Studying with Leon Kass by Yuval Levin

– Yuval Levin, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2009.
Excerpt: “Are you impressed with Rebecca at the well? Would you bring her home to meet your parents?” The question hung in the air, and with it the familiar sense of excitement and… More

Tough Love for the Humanities

– Serena Golden, Inside Higher Ed, May 22, 2009.
Excerpt: Kass argued that it is the job of the humanities to address “questions of ultimate concern: the character and source of the cosmic whole and the place and work of the human being… More

Introduction of Leon R. Kass

– Introduction to the 2009 Jefferson Lecture, National Endowment for the Humanities, 22 May 2009.
Excerpt: It’s a great honor for me to introduce Leon Kass. There is no one in contemporary American life who better embodies the fundamental mission of the humanities. This may seem a… More

The God-Seeking Animal by Eric Cohen

– Eric Cohen, First Things, April, 2010.
Excerpt: On the cover of Being Human, the anthology of writings collected by the President’s Council on Bioethics under Leon Kass’s stewardship, there is a picture of a ballerina… More

A Review of Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver

– Ryan T. Anderson, First Things, February 2011.
Excerpt: Leon Kass is a national treasure. I first came across his work nearly a decade ago as he led the President’s Council on Bioethics to produce some of the finest reflections on… More

And There’s Another Country

– Gilbert Meilaender, First Things, October 2011.
Excerpt: It is both natural and right that human beings love the country that has nurtured them. God binds our hearts to particular places and people, and there are few things sadder than… More

The Meaning of the Gosnell Trial

– Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2013.
Excerpt: “As pain is to the body so repugnance is to the soul,” Dr. Kass says as we sit down for an interview in his book-lined office at the American Enterprise Institute,… More

Lessons in Citizenship

– Naomi Schaefer Riley, Philanthropy magazine, Spring 2013.
Excerpt: Another new civic-education curriculum for secondary-school students (actually, three separate curricula) is What So Proudly We Hail. It was designed by former University of… More

In Memory of Amy Kass

– Gertrude Himmelfarb, The Weekly Standard, August 20, 2015.
Excerpt: As Amy personified that meeting of mind and heart, so did her marriage with Leon. Most marriages, it is my impression—very good marriages—are complementary, husband and wife… More

Amy Kass: Lover of Truth, Defender of Dignity

– Robert P. George, Public Discourse, August 20, 2015.
Excerpt: In 1961, Amy Apfel was united in matrimony to Leon Kass, creating one of the most beautiful marriages—and fruitful intellectual partnerships—anyone can imagine. On Tuesday… More

Amy Kass, Friend and Teacher

– Gary Schmitt, AEIdeas, August 21, 2015.
Excerpt: Leon’s and Amy’s reputation as seminar teachers, of course, was well known among their former students and colleagues.  But, as the saying goes, one had to see it to believe… More

The Greatest of Teachers

– Caitrin Keiper, The Weekly Standard, September 7, 2015.
Excerpt: An added benefit of this and many of her other classes was the habitual presence of her partner in all things, Leon Kass, resulting in what she self-mockingly (but accurately)… More

Her ‘Epic Reverberations’

– Diana Schaub, The Weekly Standard, September 7, 2015.
Excerpt: Post-Chicago, Amy (with Leon anchoring the other end of the table) continued to teach undergraduates under the auspices of the Hertog Summer Program. In general, students… More

Map for Modern Life

– Yael Levin Hungerford, "Map for Modern Life," City Journal, February 02, 2018.
Yael Levin Hungerford reviews Leon Kass’s Leading a Worthy life. Excerpt: Much of American culture today causes right-thinking people to despair, from the degradation of political… More

How to Confront a Crisis of Cultural Confidence

– Peter Berkowitz, "How to Confront a Crisis of Cultural Confidence," Mosaic, March 15, 2018.
Peter Berkowitz, in review of Leon Kass: Excerpt: Dark forebodings about the future of liberal democracy in America are agitating left and right these days. On the left, respected figures… More


Book Discussion on The Ethics of Human Cloning

– CSPAN, December 11, 1998.
Mr. Kass and Mr. Wilson talked about their book, The Ethics of Human Cloning, published by AEI Press. The book is about the ethical debate over human cloning. Mr. Kass is against… More

Interview on Washington Journal

– CSPAN, January 23, 2002.
Mr. Kass talked about his role in advising President Bush on cloning and stem cell research. The new President’s Council on Bioethics is made up of 17 philosophers, medical experts… More

Report to the President on Human Cloning

– CPAN, July 11, 2002.
Mr. Kass presented and summarized some of the debate found in the council’s report on human cloning. Among the issues that the report examined were reproductive and therapeutic… More

Interview on Washington Journal

– CSPAN, January 1, 2003.
Dr. Kass talked about ethical issues involving human cloning and recent news of the first human reproductive clone by a private organization. He also responded to viewer comments and… More

Interview on “NOW with Bill Moyers”

– “NOW with Bill Moyers,” PBS, July 25, 2003.
Excerpt: ANNOUNCER: Tonight on NOW WITH BILL MOYERS: Congress defies the FCC decision to give big media more power. BURR: I think we ought to err on the side of looking out for the… More

Interview on “Charlie Rose”

– "Charlie Rose," July 1, 2003.
First, a conversation with Richard A. Clarke, former National Security Council official and anti-terrorism advisor, about his report released by the Council on Foreign Relations, in which… More

Interview on Washington Journal

– CSPAN, April 25, 2004.
Dr. Kass talked about a report by the President’s Council on Bioethics on reproductive techniques and guidelines for assisted reproductive procedures. He also responded to viewer… More

Interview on Newsmakers

– CSPAN, August 4, 2005.
Dr. Kass talked about embryonic stem sell research, focusing on scientific issues and values, ethical considerations in both conducting and funding the research, and political opinions… More

Interview on Washington Journal

– CSPAN, July 18, 2006.
Mr. Kass and Ms. Bok talked about stem cell research and legislation to expand federal funding for the research. The two ethicists represented opposite sides of the debate on… More

Why Even Atheists Should Applaud the Ten Commandments

– Audio lecture, Bradley Lecture, American Enterprise Institute, January 12, 2009.
Summary: ‘The Ten Commandments embody the core principles of the way of life of ancient Israel and of the Judeo-Christian ethic. Even in our increasingly secular age, their influence… More

2011 Bradley Symposium: True Americanism: What It Is and Why It Matters

– The 2011 Bradley Symposium: True Americanism: What It Is and Why It Matters, Hudson Institute, 11 May 2011.
What does it mean to be an American? To what larger community and ideals are we attached and devoted? The editors of What So Proudly We Hail are joined by leading thinkers to consider these… More

The Other War On Poverty

– “The Other War on Poverty: Finding Meaning in America,” 2012 Irving Kristol Lecture, American Enterprise Institute, 2 May 2012.
On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, American educator Leon R. Kass (b. 1939) delivered the 2012 Irving Kristol Lecture at the American Enterprise Institute Annual Dinner in Washington, DC. In his… More

Leon Kass on Why Not Immortality?

– TV Ontario, September 21, 2012.
Dr. Leon Kass, Chair of the President’s Council on Bioethics, examines the ethical dilemmas surrounding stem cell research. Dr. Kass addresses the philosophical question: Why not… More

Leon Kass and Walter Berns discuss Spielberg’s “Lincoln”

– Discussion with Walter Berns and Leon Kass, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, 20 December 2012.
At a discussion hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, What So Proudly We Hail editor Leon R. Kass and Walter Berns (professor emeritus, Georgetown University) discussed Steven… More

Pride, Lust, Technology—and the Hebrew Bible

– Video conversation with Leon R. Kass, Mosaic, July 2013.
Last month, Mosaic visited Leon R. Kass, author of our June essay, “The Ten Commandments,” in his Washington, D.C. office. We spoke first about the passions, the human heart and its… More

The People Saw the Thunder

– Video conversation with Leon R. Kass, Mosaic, July 2013.
The revelation at Sinai was a “phantasmagoric experience” where sight became sound, sound became sight, and the people stood in awe and confusion. But what about us, today? Can we, just… More

Why Two Covenants?

– Video conversation with Leon R. Kass, Mosaic, July 2013.
When we last left Leon Kass, he was talking about the passions that “lurk in the hearts of men” and the guidance the Hebrew Bible can give us in learning how to channel them. Now we… More

Lincoln at Gettysburg

– Video conversation, AEI Program on American Citizenship, in partnership with, 2015.
Diana Schaub and Leon Kass discuss the Gettysburg Address.

The Ten Commandments

– "The Ten Commandments," PCG at Harvard seminar series, April 8, 2016.
Leon Kass discusses the Ten Commandments at the Program on Constitutional Government lunchtime seminar series, convened by Harvey Mansfield.

The Ten Commandments

– Leon Kass, Tikvah Podcast, May 18, 2017.
In an interview with Jonathan Silver, Leon Kass discuss the Ten Commandments.

Exodus and Liberal Education

– Leon Kass, "Exodus and Liberal Education," Politics and the Humanities, March 3, 2021.
Leon Kass joined the American University Politics and the Humanities podcast to discuss his recent work on the Book of Exodus.


Teaching Career

1972-1976 — Tutor, St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland 1973-1974 — Independent research on “Concepts of Organism, Species, and Health – Ancient and… More

Courses Taught

Courses Taught: St. John’s College Sophomore Laboratory (Biology) Freshman Seminar (Great Books, Greeks) Preceptorials on: Aristotle, De Anima Darwin, Origin of Species Aristotle,… More

Online Course on The Meaning of America

What kind of citizens are likely to emerge in a nation founded on individual rights, equality, enterprise and commerce, and freedom of religion? What virtues are required for a robust… More

Online course on The American Calendar

Why do we have national public holidays? What does each—and what do all—contribute to our common life as Americans? The American Calendar explores the purpose and meaning of our civic… More

Online Discussion of the Gettysburg Address

What is the significance of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address? Is it a funeral oration, a victory speech, a policy pitch, or something more? Was Lincoln’s purpose to break with a tainted… More