IanRamsey, theology and
‘trans-disciplinary’ medical ethics
During the 1960s and 1970s Anglican theologians increasingly
endorsed ‘trans-disciplinary’ discussion of new procedures such as
IVF in societies and journals dedicated to medical ethics.1 Although
theological engagement with medical ethics was by no means new,
it increased from the 1960s thanks to a decline in religious belief.
Figures such as IanRamsey, an Oxford theologian and later Bishop
of Durham, endorsed greater engagement with social and moral
issues to maintain the Church’s relevance in
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.
as IVF during the late 1960s and 1970s,
and shows how this was led by Anglican theologians. I detail how
these theologians argued that ‘trans-disciplinary groups’ were vital
to discussing medical ethics, and outline how this formed part of
efforts to stay relevant in the face of a decline in religious belief.
I outline how theologians such as IanRamsey argued that ‘transdisciplinary groups’ were needed to meet the challenges posed by
secular and increasingly pluralistic societies, and examine their
links with influential figures in the early history of American
Warnock, embryos and moral expertise 143
where claiming ‘you ought to do X’ at once commits me to doing
so and instructs others to do likewise.15 But Hare’s work was still
concerned with the nature of moral language, not with concrete
questions of what ought to happen in specific situations. Even when
he spoke at meetings on practical subjects, such as IanRamsey’s
symposium on ‘Personality and Science’, Hare simply clarified the
use of words and concepts such as ‘personality’.16 Like their colleagues elsewhere, Oxford philosophers firmly believed they ‘had no
more right to
Moot failed to reach agreement on any concrete proposals, and
it wound up shortly after Mannheim’s death in 1947. See Grimley,
129 Anon, ‘Introduction’, Bulletin of the Churches’ Council of Healing,
no. 1 (1967) pp. 3–4 (p. 3). Held in the IanRamsey Papers at Durham
Cathedral Archives (uncatalogued at time of writing). Henceforth
130 Anon, ‘British Medical Association: Proceedings of Council’, British
Medical Journal, Vol. 1 (1947) pp. 103–14 (p. 112).
131 Ibid, p. 112.
132 Ibid, p. 105.
133 Ibid, p. 112.
135 George T
The emergence of bioethics in British universities
train journey to a debate on surrogacy at the
University of Aberdeen, Harris met Anthony Dyson, professor of
social and pastoral theology at the University of Manchester. Like
IanRamsey and Gordon Dunstan, Dyson believed that theology
needed to engage with contemporary concerns to remain relevant.
He also shared their enthusiasm for interdisciplinary collaboration, which he had had the chance to satisfy when he served on the
Warnock inquiry between 1982 and 1984.98 These convictions were
clear in a talk to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society,