Bioethics, biotechnology and culture: a voice from the margins

Dev World Bioeth. 2004 Dec;4(2):125-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-8731.2004.00088.x.


In this paper I argue for the universality of morality as against and in spite of the plurality and inevitable relativity of human cultures. Universalisability is the litmus test of moral authenticity whereas culture tends to impose an egocentric predicament. I argue equally for the equality of cultures qua cultures and of the importance of different cultural perspectives, given the limitations of each and every particular culture, in a balanced and wholesome appreciation of moral issues, particularly issues of cross-cultural relevance. I then try to anchor my reflections on a few topical ethical issues of cross-cultural relevance which have been the subject of controversy in recent times.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Bioethical Issues*
  • Biotechnology* / economics
  • Biotechnology* / ethics
  • Circumcision, Female / ethics
  • Circumcision, Female / ethnology
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic / ethics
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Drug Industry
  • Ethical Relativism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Morals*
  • Placebos
  • Religion
  • Western World


  • Placebos