The international growth and influence of bioethics has led some to identify it as a decisive shift in the location and exercise of 'biopower'. This book provides an in-depth study of how philosophers, lawyers and other 'outsiders' came to play a major role in discussing and helping to regulate issues that used to be left to doctors and scientists. It discusses how club regulation stemmed not only from the professionalising tactics of doctors and scientists, but was compounded by the 'hands-off' approach of politicians and professionals in fields such as law, philosophy and theology. The book outlines how theologians such as Ian Ramsey argued that 'transdisciplinary groups' were needed to meet the challenges posed by secular and increasingly pluralistic societies. It also examines their links with influential figures in the early history of American bioethics. The book centres on the work of the academic lawyer Ian Kennedy, who was the most high-profile advocate of the approach he explicitly termed 'bioethics'. It shows how Mary Warnock echoed governmental calls for external oversight. Many clinicians and researchers supported her calls for a 'monitoring body' to scrutinise in vitro fertilisation and embryo research. The growth of bioethics in British universities occurred in the 1980s and 1990s with the emergence of dedicated centres for bioethics. The book details how some senior doctors and bioethicists led calls for a politically-funded national bioethics committee during the 1980s. It details how recent debates on assisted dying highlight the authority and influence of British bioethicists.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the Wellcome Trust for generously funding my research on the history of autism, and for enabling this book to exist. I would also like to thank all of the people who have supported the development of my work on child psychology and autism. This book emerged out of ideas that first came to my mind whilst conducting my PhD research on the history of child psychiatry at Cambridge. Professor John Forrester (1949–2015) was a wonderful PhD supervisor and a constant champion of, and inspiration for, my work. His encyclopaedic knowledge of the history and philosophy of science helped me to frame my own historical approach and encouraged me to enquire deeper into conceptual history than I had previously planned. Dr Rhodri Hayward, likewise, has been a fantastic mentor who has enabled me to develop a profound understanding of psychological concepts in history whilst simultaneously encouraging me to develop a strong historical grounding to my work. His comments on the first draft were tremendously helpful and without them, the book would have been a much lesser entity. I would also like to thank Professor Nikolas Rose for examining my PhD, and for his support, comments and advice since then. Thanks also to all the people who have read and engaged with the ideas in the book at various stages and offered advice, in particular Professor German Berrios, Dr Deborah Thom, Professor Edgar Jones, Dr Rob Kirk, Professor Stuart Murray, Dr Stephen Casper, Dr Signe Nipper-Nielson, Dr Iris Montero, and the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript.
I would also like to give a special thanks to all those who agreed to be interviewed and those who assisted with enabling access to archival material. In particular, I am grateful to Professor Sir Michael Rutter, Professor Patrick Bolton and all the staff at the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, as well as to Uta Frith for her interview and for donating her archive. My thanks also to the staff of the UK National Archives, King’s College London Archives, Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Wellcome Trust Archives, the National Autistic Society and the Royal Society Archives.
I would also like to thank everyone else who has supported and encouraged me in this project, particularly Janet Evans, Dr Chitra Sebastianpillai, Joanna Whitehouse, Barbara Chu and Professor David Grahame Shane. Finally, I express my deepest gratitude to Rajiv Pillai, and our son, Ashan Evans, for inspiring me every day that I wrote this book.