Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 303–327

Origin Myths in Bioethics: Constructing Sources, Motives and Reason in Bioethic(s)

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11013-008-9105-3

Cite this article as:
Gaines, A.D. & Juengst, E.T. Cult Med Psychiatry (2008) 32: 303. doi:10.1007/s11013-008-9105-3


Bioethics, the term now usually standing in for Biomedical Ethics, is a field of medical anthropological engagement. While many anthropologists and other social scientists work with bioethicists and physicians, this paper instead takes Bioethics as a topic of cultural research from the perspective of Cultural Bioethics and Interpretive Medical Anthropology. Application of useful findings of vintage anthropological research in cultural anthropology and the anthropology of religion and an interpretive lens reveal a field without a single origin or unified methodology. The paper suggests the appropriateness of a literal meaning of current conceptual commonality of the term Bioethics: that the term does in fact refer to a plurality of distinct enterprises with distinct origins and, hence, justifications.


Bioethics Cultural bioethics  Bioethical origins Medical anthropology Theory 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Bioethics, School of MedicineCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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