8/13/2008

What Is Bioethics?

Bioethics is a composite term derived from the Greek words bios (life) and ethikē (ethics). It can be defined as the systematic study of the moral dimensions – including moral vision, decisions, conduct, and policies – of the life sciences and health care, employing a variety of ethical methodologies in an interdisciplinary setting. Bioethics Core compose of: Methodological Issues in Bioethics; Historical Foundations of Bioethics; Medical Anthropology and Bioethics; Theological Issues in Bioethics; Jurisprudence & Healthcare Law; Social Justice and Bioethics; Organizational Ethics and Healthcare; Clinical Bioethics and Religious Traditions; Ethical Theories in Bioethics.

"Bioethicists ask these questions in the context of modern medicine and draw on a plurality of traditions, both secular and religious, to help society understand and keep pace with how advances in science and medical technology can change the way we experience the meaning of health and illness and, ultimately, the way we live.

Bioethics is multidisciplinary. It blends law, philosophy, insights from the humanities and medicine to bear on the the complex interaction of human life, science, and technology. Although its questions are as old as humankind, the origins of bioethics as a field are more recent and difficult to capture in a single view.

When the term “bioethics” was first coined in 1971 (some say by University of Wisconsin professor Van Rensselaer Potter; others, by fellows of the Kennedy Institute in Washington, D.C. ), it may have signified “biology combined with diverse humanistic knowledge forging a science that would set a system of medical and environmental priorities for acceptable survival.” However, ensuing elaborations stressed the vital interrelationship among humanistic studies, science, and technology.

The field of bioethics now encompasses a full range of concerns, from difficult private decisions made in clinical settings, to controversies surrounding stem cell research, to implications of reproductive technologies, to broader concerns such as international human subject research, to public policy in healthcare, and to the allocation of scarce resources. This array of interest is neatly summarized under the rubric of the Center’s four domains: Aging and End of Life, Clinical and Organizational Ethics, Life Sciences, and Health Disparities.
What Does It Accomplish?

In applying the foundational disciplines of philosophy and theology, and incorporating perspectives from various disciplines including sociology, medicine, nursing, anthropology, and law, bioethics’ interdisciplinary dialogue contributes to the field’s unique merit.

By addressing significant questions, such as, the ends and purposes of the life sciences, healthcare, the meanings and implications of distributive justice, and issues in global healthcare, it also explores deeper issues such as the meaning of life and death, pain and suffering, and rights and responsibilities.

General topics in bioethics:

* “Global bioethics”: concept and perspectives
* “The Globalization of bioethics”: the phenomena
* International documents concerning global bioethics
* Authors and trends of global bioethics
* Pluralism and multiculturalism in bioethics
* The origin of bioethics: between religious inspiration and secularization
Bioethics, science, reason and faith
* Jewish bioethics
* Christian and Catholic bioethics
* Muslim bioethics
* Jewish bioethics regarding the beginning and end of life
* Christian bioethics regarding the beginning and end of life
* Human natural and the natural moral law: a universal meeting point
* The human rights paradigm and bioethics

As the field continues to evolve, bioethics has also become a prominent force in legislation and public policy." /Source: http://www.practicalbioethics.org/

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