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.
Writing a book is both a profoundly collective project and an intensely individual (and lonely) one. As goes the usual caveat, the strengths of this work can be attributed to the former and its weaknesses only to the latter. It has been produced with the assistance and support of countless people. These acknowledgements cannot fully express my gratitude to them, but I will do my best.
Richard Price was a patient and able adviser, who has shared his enormous knowledge, insight, and experience while allowing me to intellectually venture out on my own and to develop my own worldview as a historian (occasionally intervening, pulling me out of the conceptual quicksand). He personifies the kind of academic humanism that inspired me to become a historian in the first place. Paul Landau encouraged me to pursue my interest in African history. He has treated me, as a student and as a teaching assistant, with generosity and graciousness. I can only hope that this work can engage with Africanist scholars in a thoughtful and productive way that honours his intellectual influence.
I must also thank the many archivists and librarians who have helped make this dissertation possible: Pamela Clark at the Royal Archives at Windsor; the staff of the British Library, the National Archives at Kew, the Special Collections at the University of Nottingham, the University of Cape Town Archives, and Bodleian Library at Oxford University, the Queensland Women’s Historical Association; Ruth Gibson at the University of Birmingham; Ian Sharpe at the Auckland Public Library; and the staff of McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland and the staff of the G.R. Little Library at Elizabeth City State University. I also thank Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for permission to use materials from the Royal Archives; the Department of History and the Graduate School at the University of Maryland, the US Department of Education, Elizabeth City State University, and the National Maritime Museum for funding my research and conference travel; my parents and Mary Jane Jackson for supplementing these grants; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Susan Pedersen, and my fellow seminarians for their support during the 2010 Modern British History seminar at Columbia University; and the team at Manchester University Press. The work has also been informed by the advice and insights of Dane Kennedy, Anne Rush, Peter Hoffenberg, Vince O’Malley, Andrew Kellett, Julie Mancine, Chris Saunders, Hilary Green, Beccie Seaman and Jill Bender.
Finally, and most importantly, I must express my love and devotion to my family, who have supported their first college graduate in an enterprise that sacrificed financial benefits for personal fulfilment. This book is for my grandfather, who was raised on a farm during the Great Depression, served as a medic in the Pacific theatre during the Second World War, and toiled in the coalfields and steel mills of southwestern Pennsylvania. He had an insatiable interest in the world, reading the local newspaper every day from cover to cover, and it was he who first inspired and continually nurtured my interest in the past. This work is also for my parents and grandmother, who encouraged me to pursue my dreams, no matter how unreasonable they seemed to be; for my wife and friend, Tracy, who has offered more love and support than I ever could have asked for; and, for Jude, my best boy ever, and Oliver, my best kid ever. It could not have been written without them.