Because of cultural differences between East and West, any attempt at outright adaptation of Western ideas in Asia will undoubtly encounter problems, if not rejection. Transferring an idea from one place to another is just like transplanting an organ from a donor to a recipient—rejection is to be expected. Human cultures respond to new ideas from different value systems in very much the same way.
Recently, biomedical ethics has received much attention in Asia. Fundamental advances in medicine have motivated medical scientists to look at the ethical issues arising from this progress. Will the principles upheld by the bioethicists in the West meet the challenge in Asia? This article argues that Asian bioethicists must develop a bioethics responding to their own cultural contexts. If Western principles are adopted, then they must be re-interpreted and even modified, if necessary, in light of Asian beliefs.
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Michael Cheng-tek Tai, PhD, is Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities and Head of the Division of General Education, Chungshan Medical and Dental College, Taichung,Taiwan. Chung Seng Lin, MD, is President and Professor at Chungshan Medical and Dental College, Taichung, Taiwan.
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