The Many Beginnings of Bioethics: A Comparison of American and Ibero-American Bioethics and the Possibility of a Global Bioethics

  • Jennifer A. Bulcock
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 106)


Ibero-American Bioethics: History and Perspectives allows one to contrast the establishment and development of a distinctly Ibero-American bioethics with that of the American tradition. Essays such as, “The Environment and Bioethics: A Brazilian Perspective,” immediately stand out to the American reader because, as is mentioned in a number of the essays in this volume, American bioethics has defined itself as a distinctively medical, or biomedical, ethics in contrast with the Ibero-American or Latin American approach, which espouses more of a “life ethic.” From the Ibero-American perspective, bioethics not only includes medical ethics, but also focuses on ecology and human values. Thumbing through any American anthology of bioethics one will find topics relating to reproductive issues, genetic enhancements, end-of-life issues, resource allocation, research ethics, organ donation, and more, but one will be hard pressed to find an essay on environmental ethics, for instance. In addition to issues of social justice, such as poverty or world hunger, environmental ethics would be found in an “applied ethics” anthology or as an independent topic of study. This seemingly insignificant observation, serves to indicate a discontinuity in the term “bioethics” as it is used by the two traditions in addition to an alternative understanding and structure of what bioethics is and what it consists of.1


Environmental Ethic Biomedical Ethic Genetic Enhancement Belmont Report American Tradition 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rice UniversityHoustonUSA

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