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Bioethics down under—medical ethics engages with political philosophy
  1. Søren Holm
  1. Correspondence to:
 Søren Holm
 Cardiff Law School, Cardiff University, Museum Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3XJ, UK;

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Philosophers should be wary of using the methods they use in philosophy when engaging in discussions about policy making

The beginning of November last year was a busy time in the bioethics calendar with four conferences taking place in New Zealand and Australia. The Fifth International Conference on Priorities in Health Care took place in Wellington; the Fifth Feminist Approaches to Bioethics congress, the Seventh World Congress of Bioethics, and the meeting of the Australasian Bioethics Association were all in Sydney.

One of the interesting features of these meetings was a move to a deeper exploration of the relations between ethics and political theory and political philosophy. The factors that drive this exploration are manifold but the four most important seem to be: 1) that ethicists often comment on, or propose political action and regulation; 2) that there is a growing awareness that the basic national and international societal and legal structures profoundly influences ethical issues; 3) the growing interest in global and third world issues, and 4) the move in many countries toward greater public participation in decision making concerning ethically contentious issues. All of these developments move the focus from the traditional subject matter of medical ethics—that is, the individual ethically charged action, to the question of how ethics should influence political action and regulation.

To …

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