The future of bioethics: three dogmas and a cup of hemlock

Bioethics. 2010 Jun;24(5):218-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2010.01814.x.


In this paper I argue that bioethics is in crisis and that it will not have a future unless it begins to embrace a more Socratic approach to its leading assumptions. The absence of a critical and sceptical spirit has resulted in little more than a dominant ideology. I focus on three key issues. First, that too often bioethics collapses into medical ethics. Second, that medical ethics itself is beset by a lack of self-reflection that I characterize here as a commitment to three dogmas. Third, I offer a more positive perspective by suggesting how bioethics may benefit from looking towards public health ethics as a new source of inspiration and direction.

MeSH terms

  • Bioethics / trends*
  • Dissent and Disputes
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Moral Obligations
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Philosophy*
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Professional-Patient Relations / ethics
  • Public Health* / ethics
  • Public Health* / trends