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 lve.
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.
Deontology is an alternative ethical system that is usually attributed to the philosophical tradition of Immanuel Kant. Whereas utilitarianism focuses on the outcomes, or ends, of actions, deontology demands that the actions, or means, themselves must be ethical. Deontologists argue that there are transcendent ethical norms and truths that are universally applicable to all people. Deontology holds that some actions are immoral regardless of their outcomes; these actions are wrong in and of themselves. Kant gives a 'categorical imperative' to act morally at all times. The categorical... [continues]
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