Bioethics is the philosophical study of the ethical controversies brought about by advances in biology and medicine (Wikipedia, n.d.). This field can address topics such as abortion, euthanasia,...

Bioethics is the philosophical study of the ethical controversies brought about by advances in biology and medicine (Wikipedia, n.d.). This field can address topics such as abortion, euthanasia, organ transplant, mechanical limbs, infertility treatments, genetic research, and stem cell research. This field is endless, but each new idea presents a list of ethical arguments about bioethics.

Can you think of some arguments for and against these ideas? Examine the implications of such ideas.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the most critical issues facing bioethics is where "the line" is located.  This "line" represents the point where such scientific inquiry moves into a realm where the propensity for harm exceeds that for good. Bioethics wrestles with the critical issue of whether the "the knowledge gained from the test is worth potential legal and social implications."  However, the benefit from such exploration could be to cure diseases and help to generate cures for people who suffer.  It is a critical issue that faces bioethics because the implications from scientific inquiry carry such intense consequences.  The bioethicist is as much philosopher as they are scientist, for they guide individuals through such gut- wrenching terrain while keeping another eye on the scientific quotient of exploration.  This is one set of arguments that are compelling on both sides, representing a reality that the bioethicist must navigate.

This helps to illuminate another issue facing the bioethicist.  In determining where "the line" exists and how science can be used as a force for good and not manipulated into a force where the propensity for negative consequences exists, the question about where human endeavor needs to surrender to nature exists.  In embracing both a scientific and ethical position, bioethicists have to wrestle with whether or not their work moves into a domain that is not meant for human autonomy to entire.  At the same time, bioethics is the logical conclusion to scientific inquiry.  As long as there has been science, there has always been a “line” that had to be crossed.  Scientific endeavor that has crossed this line has helped to make the world better. The ability to map out an entire human genome sequence could drastically improve the quality of life for many. Yet, doing so might alter evolutionary trends, natural conditions of being, and what defines human consciousness.  Bioethicists have to wrestle with this paradigm in their course of scientific exploration, demonstrating another argument with both sides intrinsic to bioethics.    Science is a force of life, and like all elements of life teeming with life, sometimes good results.  Sometimes, bad results.  Given the social and ethical implications of biotechnology, the bioethicist must develop positions and understandings of what happens when such endeavors go "bad" or when genetic scientists "go rogue."  This represents another argument that covers the landscape of bioethics.

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