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What is Bioethics?

Bioethics is an important area of the human pursuit of improvement and ingenuity for the future. This topic often enters the terrain of the taboo, passionate subjects, and causes for great consideration in going forward. So, what exactly is this area of modern philosophy all about? Read on as we address this often passion-evoking topic.

Straight-Forward Definition

The term itself is a combination of two words – biology and ethics. Biology is the study of all living things and their associated processes. Ethics on the other hand, is “the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong.” Combine these two concepts and you get the study of what is right or wrong in the science of biology.

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The bioethical implications of what biologists do today are far-reaching. Unlike times of the past, science has truly come to hold great power over life and the ability to affect it. Rather than continued explanation, let’s look to some examples in bioethical concepts of modern times for further understanding into this pivotal subject in modern science.

Examples of Modern, Bioethical Concepts


Euthanasia is the divisive concept of medically ending a life due to great, foreseeable, permanent pain and suffering. This topic generally comes up in the medical community as someone is found to be in such a state without hope for improvement. This subject has seen many court battles, loads of journalistic attention, and even a few globally-known cases.

Maternal/Fetal Relations

In pregnancy itself, there have been many types of bioethical debates. The abortion rights of mothers are one example that have graced headlines, court dockets, and election campaigns for years. Does a mother have the right to terminate a pregnancy? At what point is the fetus considered a legal life? What are the ethics in doctor and lawmaker intervention here?

Genetic Modification

The modification of genetics, or DNA codes is a hotly-contested subject today. This can be seen in many areas right now as science has brought us method faster than humankind can ethically assess that method. Is it okay or beneficial to modify human DNA? GMO’s or genetically modified organisms are now even a debate regarding food sources for the masses.

Public Health

Public health has long stood at the crossroads of debate in ethics. What if a business or government facility is very helpful to public economics but also quite detrimental to future public health? Does the public need to be informed? Which greater good serves the greater good?

What if a medical waste depot already exists where a new residential development is now blossoming? Who must concede to who and what is the best, ethical conclusion between human waste management and the need for populace spread? Public health issues like these demonstrate quite well the biological and ethical concerns that must be weighed.

Subject Intensity

As mentioned above, these subjects are often quite divisive. This is for good reason though as the possible implications in such situations are significant and life-changing. As these matters have entered the mainstream and had an affect on us all, the US government has even become involved, forming the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

In the end, we can conclude that this will likely continue to be a hot topic for the foreseeable future to come. As science progresses in biology, medicine, and other related fields, society must also have subsequent time to consider these progressions and either embrace or reject them for the common good. These are the basics of bioethics as understood today.