We explain to you what is bioethics, what are its principles and history. In addition, what it is for and some examples of this ethics.
What is bioethics?
The concept of bioethics alludes to the ethics of life or of biology . Of Greek origin, the term bios means
The biochemist and oncologist Van Rensselaer Potter was one of the first, in the 1970s, to use the word bioethics and tried to define it as an intellectual discipline which has as an object of study the problem of the survival of mankind. At the same time, it considered that it could be used as a bridge between the sciences of life - in all its scopes - and classical ethics.
See also: Professional Ethics.
Principles of bioethics
The researchers and experts who founded bioethics as a discipline established four principles:
- Respect for autonomy. This principle establishes that the possibility that people have to choose and decide on their own should be respected. This implies that there should be no limitations or interference with the person at the time of making a decision. n.
- Charity. This principle establishes an equation between cost and benefit. This goes beyond harming third parties: it implies working in favor of well-being, protecting without harming .
- No hex. This principle refers to promoting good, as well as the prohibition of harming or carrying out malicious actions. Basically, you can't harm or harm third parties to save a life.
- Justice. The last principle implies that there is equity between three key issues: costs, benefits and risks. At the same time, it is synonymous with an equitable sharing between responsibilities, material assets and rights.
Bioethics has its origins in Egypt and Mesopotamia . It was there that the first regulations related to medicine were detected. It is to Hippocrates (Greece, 460-370 BC) and to whom the Hippocratic Oath is awarded, that is, a mandatory guide that guides doctors in their work.
On the other hand, scholasticism advanced in a moral theology that addresses the issues of natural laws, as well as the conservation of life. Since the seventeenth century began to register books and texts that addressed, jointly, morals and medicine. These ideas, soon after, made a leap into the secular world, and are considered the origins of Medical Deontology.
Beyond these origins, in which the term "bioethics" as such did not exist, in general, the history of this discipline is divided into two major stages: before Potter and after Potter .
The Before Potter stage includes the two aforementioned items: the Hippocratic Oath and Medical Deontology. The stage called After Potter is located within the period from the Nuremberg Code to the first heart transplant, which Christian Barnard carried out in 1967.
Simply put, the Nuremberg Code is a set of principles that regulate experimentation with human beings and was the result of the Nuremberg Trials that were carried out after the end of World War II.
What is bioethics for?
Four fields can be identified in which bioethics as a discipline should be applied and have to do with regulation in scientific advances. Bioethics states that not everything that is scientifically possible is necessarily ethically admissible.
The four fields to consider are the following:
- Regulation of the advances of genetics. This includes everything that has links to birth, including cloning.
- Regulation of those advances that put the environment and the planet Earth at risk. In this case, you should have control of all those practices that endanger natural habitats, air or water, as well as limit all that It leads to global warming.
- Regulation in those advances and knowledge that have to do with procreation. This includes abortion, contraceptive methods, assisted fertilization and natal regulations.
- Regulation in health centers. This has to do with practices such as euthanasia, palliative care and even the care given to people who are in intensive care.
Bioethics is usually applied in very specific cases that, due to their characteristics, generate debates of all kinds. Some examples of these cases are the following:
- Blood transfusions
- The use of chemical or nuclear weapons.
- The termination of pregnancy (abortion).
- The use of animals to carry out experiments and tests of new medicines or vaccines.
- Organ donation.
- The duration of life or quality of life.
Bioethics in Philosophy
Bioethics was influenced by various philosophical currents, which go from Plato to Marxism, passing through Arist teles, Tom s de Aquino, the pragmatism and the utilitarianism.
Broadly speaking, different theoretical schools that influence bioethics can be identified:
- Main bioethical. It is governed by the four principles mentioned above.
- The universalist bioethics. He considers that, when making a decision in which there is a dilemma, one must choose the option to choose the most. Part of the idea that Consensus is the best form of authority.
- The personalist bioethics. He considers that the center of the debate is in each person and in his dignity. It is always governed by the last good of the person.
- Utilitarian bioethics. It is governed by the following principle: "The greatest good for the greatest number of people."