Bioethics as a profession

ALDaily named its link to this article about the profession of bioethics “How are these people experts?”  A quote:

Is it politically desirable for society to credit a designated group called “bioethicists” with expertise in resolving the most difficult moral questions? If so, what is it that gives ethicists a more legitimate claim to wisdom about right and wrong than the rest of us? The matter of ethical expertise — what it looks like, who can claim it — is a profound one. The place of bioethics in the academy, in the clinical realm, and in society turns on it. For most of us, the very idea of the “right” answer to a complex moral dilemma seems absurd on its face. After all, its derivation depends upon which moral theory one favors: deontological, consequentialist, natural law, situational, and so on.

By no means does this negate the possibility, let alone the importance, of serious moral reflection, but such analyses may be too lost in the foundational questions to be of much everyday use. And, of course, many bioethicists rely on their own philosophical biases. So, for example, when bioethicists condemn organ donor solicitation with the argument that it gives unfair advantage to some or violates human dignity, we must ask what makes them sufficiently sure of their view to impose it on others? Finding the “right” moral answer — assuming for a moment one exists — is not the business of applied ethics. So what can bioethics offer? What is its technical expertise?

[Hoover Policy Review]

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