Search Results

Open Access (free)

Duncan Wilson

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.

Open Access (free)

‘Where to draw the line?’

Mary Warnock, embryos and moral expertise

Duncan Wilson

. Many clinicians and researchers agreed that oversight would make their work ‘socially palatable’ and supported Warnock’s calls for a ‘monitoring body’ to scrutinise IVF and embryo research.3 Like Kennedy, then, Warnock both responded to and helped to generate the demand for bioethics, contributing to the public and political construction of the ‘audit society’. Despite the similarity in their arguments, Kennedy and Warnock promoted bioethics for different reasons. While Kennedy’s endorsement drew on his encounters with civil rights politics and American bioethicists

Open Access (free)

Duncan Wilson

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 assisted dying 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

Open Access (free)

Duncan Wilson

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

Open Access (free)

Duncan Wilson

the Journal of the American Medical Association, Ramsey stated that since the risks of IVF were unknown and embryos could not provide consent, ‘it constitutes unethical medical experimentation on possible future human beings, and therefore is subject to absolute moral prohibition’.148 He claimed that these factors justified a permanent ban on IVF and argued that it ‘should not be allowed by medical or public policy in the United States – not now or ever’.149 At the same time, well-funded and influential pro-life groups targeted research on human embryos and foetuses

Open Access (free)

‘Science Matters’ and the public interest

The role of minority engagement

Sujatha Raman, Pru Hobson-West, Mimi E. Lam and Kate Millar

challenges. Nonetheless, Blair was appealing to a commonsensical view of scientific research 246 Science and the politics of openness for the greater good recurrently invoked in public discourse – most recently, by journalists urging an extension of the fourteen-day limit on embryo research to ensure benefits from medical science (e.g. Harris, 2016). In this equation of science and the public interest, the public are represented primarily as beneficiaries. Yet, in principle, Blair’s intervention opened up the possibility of renegotiating how the public interest in

Open Access (free)

The MMR debate in the United Kingdom

Vaccine scares, statesmanship and the media

Andrea Stöckl and Anna Smajdor

research occupied a very low status in the hierarchy of priorities in the 1980s, under the Conservative government. 54 The pro-science Labour government came into power at a pivotal point in the relationship between politicians, scientists and the British public. During the Conservatives’ period in office, embryo research had become a possibility, and many people were excited about the new avenues for exploration that this might open. Scientists had assumed that the

Open Access (free)

Consolidating the ‘ethics industry’

A national ethics committee and bioethics during the 1990s

Duncan Wilson

committee should be set up by Parliament’.16 Not content with endorsing a national committee in radio lectures and books, Kennedy also discussed his plans with politicians and the chairman of the Law Commission.17 But he was not the only advocate of a government-sponsored ethics committee by the mid 1980s. In a 1984 editorial on IVF and embryo research, the Mail on Sunday also urged the government to establish ‘a constant watchdog to involve ordinary people in the crucial decisions being made about our lives by men in white coats’.18 Like Kennedy, it argued that a

Open Access (free)

Open access

The beast that no-one could – or should – control?

Stephen Curry

academia, even if they have been slower to work through the system. Our relationship with research papers and data is changing because it is easier and cheaper than ever before to put these scientific outputs into the public domain. In the era of printed journals this possibility had never arisen because of the costs of production and distribution. Now that these have largely disappeared, the question is: why not make all scientific research publicly available? However, this simple question does not have a simple answer. There remains considerable debate about the extent

Open Access (free)

‘A service to the community as a whole’

The emergence of bioethics in British universities

Duncan Wilson

‘the work of the Centre and its future development’.120 In order to obtain money for a series of lectures on ‘Experiments on Embryos’, which doubled as CSEP’s public launch event, Lobjoit requested money from a variety of commercial sources and Brazier wrote to several charities and legal firms. Their letters acknowledged that any donation ‘would be a different form of investment from the usual clinical research’, but stressed that ‘we are convinced of equivalent importance in ­improving healthcare practice’.121 Many firms turned these requests down, claiming that