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Bioethics: why philosophy is essential for progress
  1. Julian Savulescu
  1. Correspondence to Professor Julian Savulescu, Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Suite 8, Littlegate House, Oxford OX1 1PT, UK; julian.savulescu{at}philosophy.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

It is the JME's 40th anniversary and my 20th anniversary working in the field. I reflect on the nature of bioethics and medical ethics. I argue that both bioethics and medical ethics together have, in many ways, failed as fields. My diagnosis is that better philosophy is needed. I give some examples of the importance of philosophy to bioethics. I focus mostly on the failure of ethics in research and organ transplantation, although I also consider genetic selection, enhancement, cloning, futility, disability and other topics. I do not consider any topic comprehensively or systematically or address the many reasonable objections to my arguments. Rather, I seek to illustrate why philosophical analysis and argument remain as important as ever to progress in bioethics and medical ethics.

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