Summary

In its early days, contemporary bioethics was generally seen as an activity on the fringes of research and practice in the life sciences; it had no place within environmental analysis. The dominant view was that the life sciences were a strictly scientific endeavor, with questions of morality and values arising only now and then in the interstices. That view has gradually changed. The life sciences are increasingly understood as, at their core, no less a moral endeavor than a scientific one. Ethics lies at the very heart of the enterprise, if only because facts and values can no longer be clearly separated—any more than the ends of the life sciences can be separated from the means chosen to pursue them.

No less important, questions of the moral means and ends of the life sciences cannot be long distinguished from the moral means and ends of the cultures and societies that pursue and deploy them. Here, fundamental questions must be asked. First, what kind of medicine and healthcare, what kind of stance toward nature and our environment, do we need for the kind of society we want? Such a question presupposes that we have some end in view for our society, though that may not be all that clear. What is clear, however, is that it is almost impossible to think for long about bioethics without being forced to think even more broadly about the society in which it will exist and whose ends—for better or worse—it will serve.

The second question reverses the first: What kind of a society ought we to want in order that the life sciences will be encouraged and helped to make their best contribution to human welfare? The contribution bioethics makes will in great part be a function of the goals sought by the life sciences, and those in turn will be stimulated or formed by society's goals. The life sciences shape the way we think about our lives, and thus they increasingly provide some key ingredients in society's vision of itself and in the lives of the citizens who comprise society.

Understood in terms of these two broad questions, bioethics takes its place at the heart of the enterprise of the life sciences. Only a part of its work will bear on dealing with the daily moral dilemmas and ethical puzzles that are part of contemporary healthcare and environmental protection. A no less substantial part will be to help shape the social context in which those dilemmas and puzzles play themselves out. At its best, bioethics will move back and forth between the concreteness of necessary individual and policy decisions and the broad notions and dynamic of the human situation. It is still a new field, seeking to better define itself and to refine its methods. It has made a start in shaping its direction and possible contribution, but only a start.

DANIEL CALLAHAN (1 995)

SEE ALSO: Abortion; Animal Welfare and Rights; Bioethics Education; Clinical Ethics; Death, Definition and Determination of; Environmental Ethics; Ethics; Eugenics and Religious Law; Fertility Control; Genetic Testing and Screening; Health and Disease; Healthcare Resources; Informed Consent; Life, (Quality of; Life Sustaining Treatment andEutha-nasia; Medical Ethics, History of; Mental Health; Population Ethics; Reproductive Technologies

Beat The Battle With The Bottle

Beat The Battle With The Bottle

Alcoholism is something that can't be formed in easy terms. Alcoholism as a whole refers to the circumstance whereby there's an obsession in man to keep ingesting beverages with alcohol content which is injurious to health. The circumstance of alcoholism doesn't let the person addicted have any command over ingestion despite being cognizant of the damaging consequences ensuing from it.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment