1. Religion & Spirituality

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:

http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/phil/blphil_ethbio_intro.htm

was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Most Emailed Articles

The Bible and Suicide

Introduction to Bioethics

Principles, Medicine, and Philosophy

--> -->
• Ethics & Morality
• Intro to Ethics & Morality
• How to Think About Ethics
• Normative Ethical Systems
• Ethical Dilemmas & Problems

• Philosophy
• Introduction to Philosophy
• Biographies of Philosophers
• Schools of Philosophy
• Branches of Philosophy

• Site Resources
• Main Site Index

• What is Atheism?
• Religion & Theism
• Skepticism & Logic
• Arguments for / against Gods
• Evolution vs. Creationism
• Religious Timelines
• Hate Mail
• Glossary
• Book Reviews

• Chat Room
Join others in the Agnosticism/Atheism chat!

• Discussion Forum
Do you have an opinion about this page? Make it known on the Discussion Forum!

The intersection of medical technology, medical practice, and ethical principles has long been an important field of study, but the rapid advance of medical technology has made it perhaps the most important field of ethics today. Every human being is concerned with medicine and health, but they should also be concerned as to whether their health can be maintained in an ethical manner and an ethical environment.

Bioethics is an especially difficult field because it regularly concerns some of the most troubling topics: the nature of life, the nature of death, what sort of life is worth living, what constitutes murder, how we should treat people who are in especially vulnerable and painful circumstances, just what sort of responsibilities any of has to other human beings, and so on. Bioethics is not a wholly independent field - it must, obviously, draw a great deal from other ethical discussions.

At the same time, the way in which medical technology pushes the limits of what we humans can do also pushes the limits of our understanding of such discussions. Medicine today forces us to confront the nature of life and death in a manner that we are not normally accustomed to, but we have to get used to it because it's only going to get worse.

Medicine, Ethics, and Philosophy
Medicine and ethics are by no means strangers - on the contrary, medicine started out as an aspect of early philosophy. What this meant was that was a close integration of medical expertise and medical ethics existed. Those who engaged in research and experiments to determine what could be done in the fight against ill health were also the ones who led the debate over what should be done in that struggle - a very different situation from what we have today where the two tasks tend most often to be separated.

The Need for Bioethics
Is bioethics really such a critical issue for society today? Even if it didn't exist and we had to invent it today, it would involve the application of ethical principles and arguments to medical and biological issues. So what, if anything, is so special or unique about these issues that requires its own field of ethical inquiry?

Principles of Bioethics
Are there any basic principles which discussions of bioethics or medical ethics should ideally start with? The field of bioethics is, after all, very wide ranging - it encompasses just about every ethical issue involving medicine and biology. Without some basic and unifying principles, it would be difficult to imagine considering this a single field of study at all.

-->
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.