Different views and interpretations of the notion of bioethics and their consequences
In general, one of the major reasons of misunderstanding the term of bioethics is terminological discrepancy. In the case of bioethics, the two „fathers“ of the word – Fritz Jahr (1926) and Van Rensselaer Potter (1970, most probably without knowing of Jahr) – coined it departing from essentially different premises. By Bio-Ethik, Jahr intended the fusion of the bios (life) and ethos (custom; moral attitude), while Potter tried to combine „biological sciences“ with humanities (primarily ethics). A third interpretative approach appeared in 1971 at the Georgetown Kennedy Institute of Ethics, reducing bioethics to medical ethics and research ethics.
No wonder that, at the beginning of the 21st century, all over the world, so many different understandings of bioethics are present. This, to quote Tristram Engelhardt, might guarantee „a fertile or strategic ambiguity,“ but it also has caused profound disagreements among scholars, institutions, and publishers.
This paper intends to explore those differences, enter into their reasons and roots, and present an overview of the most important „problems and consequences“ they have created.
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