Sarah Ferber: Bioethics in historical perspective
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“In modern ‘culture wars’, bioethics is a political minefield” (p. ix): it is interesting that Sarah Ferber—an associate professor of History at the University of Wollongong in Australia and a member of the regional Human Research Ethics Committee—chooses these words to begin her book, Bioethics in Historical Perspective. Where do such “mines” come from? They probably come from human culture itself, since people’s opinions and beliefs originate from their own backgrounds—and by people I mean not only those in academic and healthcare fields but also every single lay member of communities involved in the public debate on bioethics.
As Ferber highlights, bioethics is a public matter: “the emergence of bioethics coincides with a dramatic expansion in the number of ways in which medicine helps to shape modern individual, social and political worlds” (p. 2); therefore, it is useful to approach bioethics by considering and explaining bioethical issues foremost from a socio-historical...