Lecture 1 - Bioethics Intro Lecture What is Biomedical...

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Bioethics: Intro Lecture What is Biomedical Ethics? Bioethics is a hybrid discipline – it is considered applied ethics It applies general ethical theories, principles and rules to problems of therapeutic practice, health care delivery and medical and biological research o Philosophy in action The beginning of bioethics dates back to the 5 th century BC with the Hippocratic Oath which is the first code of ethics for health care professionals Bioethics and the law, a close relationship (the legal side of the medical profession) On the one hand, the law defines the social boundaries and conditions for health care delivery On the other hand, ethical theory and research may serve as a resource for developing a case-law (Morgentaler’s case) o Morgentaler is the person who starting in the 70s and 80s began preforming safe abortions – went to prison which lead to changing the law in 1989 What are the general ethical theories and principles that we will be using in this course? Why is it that we are concerned with ethics at all? What is it about ethics that makes it important for us to know about it? There is a dimension of our life that we believe holds our “duty” or what we should do Some people believe that what is right and wrong (good and bad) depends upon how they feel about it These people share a non-cognitivist meta-ethical position , also known as ethical non- cognitivism – this means it is not based on rational principles (do not know it rationally) Ethical non-cognitivism: argues that no matter how much logic or reasoning (based on knowledge) you use, you can never settle a disagreement on what is right. In other words, we think we are right because it feels right Other people believe that what is right or wrong is relative to a particular point of view. This is called ethical relativism . Ethical relativism: the position that what is right of wrong is based on reasoning and not just on feelings, but there is no objective and universal right or wrong. Every individual or a group has his or her own values, and understanding of what is right and wrong Yes other people believe that right or wrong, good or bad, etc., are objective in nature. This is the so- called ethical objectivism . Ethical Objectivism: the position that right and wrong are objective phenomena, that is, phenomena that are recognized by everyone. So, when we make ethical claims, we make claims about how the world really is.
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