Medicine and Medical Science in the Age of Bioethics


Four decades ago the profession of bioethics did not exist. Today, bioethics is a part of the landscape of the life sciences: ethics committees are now mandatory in American hospitals; all federally funded research that involves human beings or animals must be reviewed by a board constituted to protect the subjects of research; a plethora of seminars offer training in bioethics for those who need, or wish, to offer ethical advice; bioethics courses are now a regular part of the curriculum at universities, colleges and medical schools. Given the growing importance of bioethics for the practice of medicine and medical research, it is imperative that those who provide, and those who use, medical services have a clear picture of how this new profession is influencing the art and science of healing. Combining the methods of social history and sociological analysis, Medicine's Monitor provides the first systematic study of the organization and substance of bioethics. The aim of this project is to explore the reciprocal influence between bioethics and the work of medicine and medical science. This will be done by: revisiting the history of bioethics, paying particular attention to the societal (i.e., social and cultural) and professional (i.e., medicine and medical science) contexts that gave birth to, and nurtured, bioethics; describing past and ongoing struggles on how to best organize bioethics both as a profession and within institutions; closely examining the influence of bioethics: a) on the education of health professionals, b) in the clinic, c) in medical research, and d) in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries; and considering the future of the field, including alternative visions of the bioethical presence in medicine.