3 ‘Who’s for bioethics?’ Ian Kennedy, oversight and accountability in the 1980s Bioethics ceased to be an ‘American trend’ during the 1980s, when growing numbers of British outsiders publicly demanded greater external involvement in the development of guidelines for medicine and biological science. Their arguments were certainly successful. By the beginning of the 1990s, when the Guardian described the growing ‘ethics industry’, supporters of this new approach were influential public figures. One of the earliest and most high profile of these supporters was the
From Reason to Practice in Bioethics: An Anthology Dedicated to the Works of John Harris brings together original contributions from some of the world’s leading scholars in the field of bioethics. With a particular focus on, and critical engagement with, the influential work of Professor John Harris, the book provides a detailed exploration of some of the most interesting and challenging philosophical and practical questions raised in bioethics. The book’s broad range of chapters make it a useful resource for students, scholars, and practitioners interested in the field of bioethics, and the relationship between philosophical and practical ethics. The range of contributors and topics afford the book a wide international interest.
The international growth and influence of bioethics has led some to identify it as a decisive shift in the location and exercise of 'biopower'. This book provides an in-depth study of how philosophers, lawyers and other 'outsiders' came to play a major role in discussing and helping to regulate issues that used to be left to doctors and scientists. It discusses how club regulation stemmed not only from the professionalising tactics of doctors and scientists, but was compounded by the 'hands-off' approach of politicians and professionals in fields such as law, philosophy and theology. The book outlines how theologians such as Ian Ramsey argued that 'transdisciplinary groups' were needed to meet the challenges posed by secular and increasingly pluralistic societies. It also examines their links with influential figures in the early history of American bioethics. The book centres on the work of the academic lawyer Ian Kennedy, who was the most high-profile advocate of the approach he explicitly termed 'bioethics'. It shows how Mary Warnock echoed governmental calls for external oversight. Many clinicians and researchers supported her calls for a 'monitoring body' to scrutinise in vitro fertilisation and embryo research. The growth of bioethics in British universities occurred in the 1980s and 1990s with the emergence of dedicated centres for bioethics. The book details how some senior doctors and bioethicists led calls for a politically-funded national bioethics committee during the 1980s. It details how recent debates on assisted dying highlight the authority and influence of British bioethicists.
5 The unbearable desire for explicitness and rationality in bioethics Michael Parker and Micaela Ghisleni ‘[S]omeone can only claim that their actions or decisions stem from moral conviction or are dictated by moral considerations – are in short part of an attempt to live by ethical standards, if they can say why those actions are right, if they can show how they are justified. To have a moral belief is, whatever else it is, to believe that the world will be a better place if certain things happen and others do not, and that it will be a worse place if the
-science’ ( Fairhead et al. , 2006 ). While bioethical frameworks centre on standardised protocols, ethnographic studies have examined how clinical research is interpreted by its participants, and the political and historical factors influencing these understandings ( Enria and Lees, 2018 ). This literature has highlighted the importance of placing bioethics in their political and economic context, exposing the limits to bioethical discourses and the complexities of
context. The authors clearly place the medical response in its historical and political context, exposing and exacerbating ‘a profound sense of distrust in the central government and foreign intervention, which was linked to the region’s history of political marginalisation as well as contemporary political upheaval and violence’. The anthropological rather than classic bioethical approach is particularly revelatory, treating the study subjects as ‘interlocutors in ongoing global ethics debates, not
. , Sinding , C. and Elit , L. ( 2014 ), ‘ The Ethics of Engaged Presence: A Framework for Health Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Development Work ’, Developing World Bioethics , 14 : 1 , 47 – 55 . IFRC ( 1995 ), The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent
Introduction What is bioethics? Recent decades have witnessed profound shifts in the politics of medicine and the biological sciences, in which members of several professions now consider issues that were traditionally the preserve of doctors and scientists. In government committees and organisations such as the General Medical Council, professional conduct is determined by a diverse group of participants that includes philosophers, lawyers, theologians, social scientists, doctors, scientists, healthcare managers and representatives from patient or pressure
6 Consolidating the ‘ethics industry’: a national ethics committee and bioethics during the 1990s During the 1980s many of the individuals who were pivotal to the making of British bioethics sought to establish what the British Medical Journal identified as a ‘national bioethics committee’.1 Ian Kennedy, for one, regularly called for a politically funded committee based on the American President’s Commission, and his proposals were often endorsed by newspapers and other bioethicists. They were also endorsed by senior figures at the BMA, who believed a national
2 Thought and memory John Harris What is bioethics for? Indeed what is ethics for? Readers of this volume will themselves have formed their own ideas about what bioethics is in terms of the questions it addresses and its methods of inquiry. But, apart from its intrinsic interest, what makes bioethics worth doing, what makes it worthy of anyone’s attention? What I hope this introductory chapter will do is give some sense of what I have been trying to do in my life in bioethics, and of some of the influences and events that have shaped its course. In short, I