History of bioethcs

History of bioethcs - 1.16: The History of Bioethics...

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1.16: The History of Bioethics Franklin Worrell What is bioethics? In the second half of the twentieth century there was an explosion of interest in ethical issues in the biomedical sciences and healthcare. o One reason for this increased attention was the intense number of technological breakthroughs. Some enabled people who had previously been doomed to survive indefinitely (such as dialysis machines and artificial ventilators). Others expanded reproduction techniques and contraceptives. Etc. o Another reason for the increased interest was a growing concern with the power of doctors and scientists. This concern manifested itself in “patients’ rights” movements, which led to greater public awareness. o Decisions have to be made regarding controversial issues, and these decisions are not technical in nature (though they have technical aspects) and are not for doctors alone to make. These decisions are ethical, and the views of the layman are just as valuable as those of the doctor. Part of the domain of bioethics is medical ethics. o Medical ethics is traditionally focused on the doctor-patient relationship, the professional virtues of the medical doctor, and relationships between doctors. o Bioethics claims a broader domain and differs from traditional medical ethics in three ways: Bioethics seeks a better understanding of the issues at play and not the development of a code for the profession. Bioethics asks deep philosophical questions about ethics, human value, personhood, etc. Bioethics concerns itself with issues of public policy and control over the sciences. All this being said, the history of bioethics begins with the history of medical ethics.
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Medical Ethics Medical ethics is old. Most people think it begins with Hippocrates in ancient Greece, but this is inaccurate. o Tribal societies predating the Greeks had codes of behavior for many of the professions that we would consider medical today. o One of the oldest known written rules regarding the medical professions comes from the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (circa 1750 BCE.). It orders the removal of a doctors hands if an operation results in the loss of the life or an eye of the nobility. Many ancient codes of ethics were expressed as oaths, and the best known is the Hippocratic Oath: o I swear by Apollo Physician and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant: To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art if they desire to learn it without fee
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History of bioethcs - 1.16: The History of Bioethics...

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