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Monday, August 20, 2007

In most non-Western cultures a strict separation of religion from philosophy does not exist

Bioethics is the ethics of biological science and medicine. Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, philosophy, and theology... From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bioethicists often focus on using philosophy to help analyze issues, and philosophical ethicists such as Peter Singer tend to treat the field as a branch of moral or ethical philosophy. However, this approach is sometimes challenged, and bioethics is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. Many bioethicists come from backgrounds outside of academic philosophy, and some even claim that the methods of analytic philosophy have had a negative effect on the field's development. The percentage of bioethicists with professional backgrounds in health care, especially physicians, has been steadily increasing over time. In fact, the last two Presidents of the primary academic society for bioethicists in the U.S. (the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities) have been physicians. Some bioethicists, especially those who perform ethics consultation in clinical settings, emphasize the practical aspects of bioethics, and view the field as more closely related to clinical practice or public health than philosophy.
Religious bioethicists have developed rules and guidelines on how to deal with these issues from within the viewpoint of their respective faiths. Many religious bioethicists are Jewish, and Christian scholars. Since the Indian traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism considers the sanctity of all life, there is much literature related to the philosophy and ethics related to life in each of these traditions. A growing number of religious scholars from Islam have also become involved in this field. There has been some criticism by liberal Muslims that only the more religiously conservative voices in Islam are being heard on this issue.
Although there are a number of eminently qualified philosophers who approach bioethics from a religious perspective, some Western secular bioethicists are critical of the fact that religious bioethicists are often religious scholars without an academic degree or training in disciplines that pertain to the issues, such as philosophy (wherein the formal study of ethics is usually found), biology or medicine. From the standpoint of bioethicists whose work is secular, the central cause for caution as regards religious bioethics work is that tools and methods should be brought to bear on problems, rather than starting with conclusions, and then looking for justifications. Of course, this criticism does not apply solely, of even to all, forms of religious bioethical work.
In the case of most non-Western cultures a strict separation of religion from philosophy does not exist. In many Asian cultures, there is a lively (and often less dogmatic, but more pragmatic) discussion on bioethical issues. The discussion often refers to common demographic policies which are criticised, as in the case of China. Buddhist bioethics, in general, is characterised by a naturalistic outlook that leads to a rationalistic, pragmatic approach. Buddhist bioethicists include Damien Keown. In India, Vandana Shiva is the leading bioethicist whose speaks from the Hindu tradition. In Africa, and partly also in Latin America, the debate on bioethics frequently focus on its practical relevance in the context of underdevelopment and (national or global) power relations... [edit] External links International Association of Bioethics WHO Global bioethics calendar

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