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.
Ian Kennedy, oversight and accountability in the 1980s
54 Kennedy, ‘What is a Medical Decision?’, p. 22.
55 Ian Kennedy, ‘Tinkering with or Retooling the NHS is Not What is
Needed’, Listener, 20 November 1980, pp. 677–9. See also Kennedy
in Reynolds and Tansey (eds), Medical Ethics Education in Britain,
56 Kennedy, interview with the author (2010).
57 Kennedy ‘Tinkering with or Retooling the NHS’, p. 679.
58 Kennedy, ‘What is a Medical Decision?’, p. 27.
59 Kennedy, ‘The Legal Effect of Requests by the Terminally Ill’, p. 220.
See also Ramsey, The Patient as Person, p. 116.
60 Kennedy, interview
echo the line: ‘I don’t think two people could have been
happier than we have been’.38
By the time Wharton and Woolf get to what many critics consider their
ﬁnest novels, however, they have moved sharply apart in form and,
though less so, in content. The Age of Innocence (1920) and To the
Lighthouse (1927) continue to tell stories about the shape of the family
and its force on individual members, especially on women. Woolf reduces
the cast to a single family, the Ramseys, and some few friends; Wharton’s
world encompasses all of Old New York and its tending of one
A national ethics committee and bioethics during the 1990s
with the author (2010).
130 Anon, ‘Long-Time Critic of Vested Medical Interests’. Kennedy served
as a member of the GMC between 1984 and 1993.
131 Annabel Ferriman, ‘Bristol Inquiry Appoints Doctor to its Panel’,
British Medical Journal, Vol. 318 (1999) p. 283.
132 Sarah Ramsey, ‘UK “Bristol Case” Inquiry Formally Opened’, Lancet,
Vol. 353 (1999) p. 987.
134 John Warden, ‘Cardiac Surgery Inquiry Given Wide Remit’, British
Medical Journal, Vol. 317 (1998) p. 498.
135 Ian Kennedy, quoted in Ferriman, ‘Bristol Inquiry Appoints Doctor’,
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
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,
Grendel, walking under misty slopes, bearing God's wrath).
Those of us who dwell ‘in the fens’ for the most part dwell out
of the fens, in fact, on the little patches of higher, drier ground like the isle upon which Little Downham was founded. The preponderance of settlement names ending in the - ey (Old English - eg , ‘island’) suffix around here – Coveney, Ramsey, Stuntney, Whittlesea, and so on – indicates as much. Before they were drained, the fens proper – the marshes themselves – were thought by outsiders largely
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
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