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.
While she became associated with British bioethics following her
engagement with IVF and embryo research in the 1980s, Mary
Warnock is better known today for her views on euthanasia.1
Warnock first engaged with this issue in 1993, when she was
appointed to a House of Lords Select Committee that investigated
whether there were circumstances in which ‘assisteddying’ might
be permissible, when a doctor would not be prosecuted for ending
a patient’s life or helping them end their own lives. After deliberating for a year, Warnock and her fellow committee
groups. Teaching ethics, once a matter of professional etiquette,
takes place on dedicated courses and in specialised departments that
emphasise law and moral philosophy. A growing body of interdisciplinary journals considers topics that were once confined to the
correspondence pages of the Lancet or the British Medical Journal.
And public discussion of issues such as embryo research, cloning,
genetic engineering or assisteddying are now as likely to be led by
a lawyer or a philosopher as a doctor or a scientist.
This new approach is known as ‘bioethics’: a neologism