Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
When we applied for the editorship of the JME 7 years ago, we said that we considered the JME to be the most important journal in medicine. The most profound questions that health professionals face are not scientific or technical, but ethical. Our enormous scientific and medical progress already outstrips our capability (in personnel, time and physical resources) to provide treatment. Life can be prolonged at enormous cost, sometimes far beyond the point that the individual appears to be gaining a net benefit from that life. Science can tell us how to achieve something, but it cannot tell us whether we should achieve that end—whether it is good. For that, we need ethics.
Ethics grows in importance as our technology creates new possibilities. Where there are no options, there are no ethical questions. However, once there are options, there arise pressing questions about whether to pursue them. (To reverse an old aphorism, ‘can’ raises the question ‘ought we?’) We require values and principles to decide how to use medicine and science. During the last 7 years, issues like the creation of brain organoids, human non-human chimeras, mitochondrial transfer, gene editing of embryos and in vitro gametogenesis have grown in prominence. These raise deep questions about moral status and how it should be determined, the limits of modification of humans, and what is good in life.
As editors of the JME, we are proud of our small contribution to thinking about these challenges. We are grateful to the hard work of our associate editors and administrative staff, but there is still much more to do.
During our term as editors, we have published papers from diverse perspectives, on a wide range of topics. We have seen vigorous debate within the pages of the journal and have often sought to deliberately encourage that debate …
Funding JS was supported by the Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
Read the full text or download the PDF:
Other content recommended for you
- Lessons from Frankenstein 200 years on: brain organoids, chimaeras and other ‘monsters’
- An argument for intolerance
- Organoids as hybrids: ethical implications for the exchange of human tissues
- The debate about physician assistance in dying: 40 years of unrivalled progress in medical ethics?
- Questioning previously accepted principles
- Cerebral organoids: ethical issues and consciousness assessment
- Ethics needs principles—four can encompass the rest—and respect for autonomy should be “first among equals”
- Ethical (and epistemological) issues regarding consciousness in cerebral organoids
- What (or sometimes who) are organoids? And whose are they?
- The ethics of unlinked anonymous testing of blood: views from in-depth interviews with key informants in four countries