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.

A national ethics committee and bioethics during the 1990s

6 Consolidating the ‘ethics industry’: a national ethics committee and bioethics during the 1990s During the 1980s many of the individuals who were pivotal to the making of British bioethics sought to establish what the British Medical Journal identified as a ‘national bioethics committee’.1 Ian Kennedy, for one, regularly called for a politically funded committee based on the American President’s Commission, and his proposals were often endorsed by newspapers and other bioethicists. They were also endorsed by senior figures at the BMA, who believed a national

in The making of British bioethics
Open Access (free)

bioethics as a new system of ethics, or a ‘science of survival’, that drew on ‘modern concepts of biology’ in order to guide moral choices and ensure human survival in the 2 The making of British bioethics face of environmental problems.3 He argued that political or ethical decisions ‘made in ignorance of biological knowledge, or in defiance of it, may jeopardize man’s future and indeed the future of earth’s biological resources for human needs’.4 ‘Bioethics’, he continued, ‘should develop a realistic knowledge of biological knowledge and its limitations in order to

in The making of British bioethics
The origins and endurance of club regulation

outsiders should play a role in formulating and administering a new statutory code for medical research. These factors have led some to claim that Pappworth is a significant figure in ‘the birth of British bioethics’.7 But while his work attracted public attention, it ultimately had little impact on the continuing support for club regulation among doctors, politicians and other professions. Despite Pappworth’s best efforts, outside involvement was dismissed as ‘quite impracticable’ and doctors were left, as before, to determine their own conduct and ethical standards

in The making of British bioethics
Ian Kennedy, oversight and accountability in the 1980s

selfregulation and calling for external involvement in the development of professional standards. Kennedy’s Reith Lectures, entitled Unmasking Medicine, are recognised as a pivotal moment in the history of British bioethics, with a senior doctor identifying them as ‘one of the key events in the retreat from paternalism’.1 In addition to Unmasking Medicine, Kennedy endorsed bioethics in academic publications, newspaper columns and several other radio and television programmes during the 1980s. In this period, he also established a Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King

in The making of British bioethics
Open Access (free)

Conclusion 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 ‘assisted dying’ 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

in The making of British bioethics

, Doomwatch centred on the work of ex-scientists in a fictitious Department for the Observation and Measurement of Science, who protected society from human–animal hybrids, artificial viruses and genetically modified rats. Its largely negative portrayal of scientists offered a telling contrast to the ‘new Elizabethans’ who were celebrated in popular 66 The making of British bioethics coverage during the 1950s. The scientists in Doomwatch consistently ignored or refused to consider the social implications of their research, often with disastrous consequences for the

in The making of British bioethics
Mary Warnock, embryos and moral expertise

authoritative answers to moral dilemmas.9 Their differences of opinion demonstrate that bioethicists held no consensus on what bioethics was or how it should function. While Hare and Singer believed that bioethics provided a vehicle for philosophers to act as ‘ethics experts’, Warnock saw it as a form of ‘corporate decision-making’ in which representatives of different groups and professions sought ‘a middle way’ between competing interests.10 142 The making of British bioethics When it came to Warnock’s committee of inquiry, this ‘middle way’ involved using scientific

in The making of British bioethics
The emergence of bioethics in British universities

’s conviction that student doctors and nurses needed formal ethics training.2 It also reflected changing priorities in higher education, with CSEP’s founding quartet stressing the applied nature of their work and that the new centre benefited doctors, patients and ‘the community as a whole’.3 188 The making of British bioethics Involving non-doctors in medical ethics teaching During the 1960s and 1970s, as Edward Shotter notes, ‘there was no teaching in ethics in British medical education’ and leading doctors believed that ethical questions were best ‘discussed by

in The making of British bioethics