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in philosophy, a branch of ethicsethics,
in philosophy, the study and evaluation of human conduct in the light of moral principles. Moral principles may be viewed either as the standard of conduct that individuals have constructed for themselves or as the body of obligations and duties that a particular society
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 concerned with issues surrounding health care and the biological sciences. These issues include the morality of abortionabortion,
expulsion of the products of conception before the embryo or fetus is viable. Any interruption of human pregnancy prior to the 28th week is known as abortion. The term spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, is used to signify delivery of a nonviable embryo or fetus due
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, euthanasiaeuthanasia
, either painlessly putting to death or failing to prevent death from natural causes in cases of terminal illness or irreversible coma. The term comes from the Greek expression for "good death.
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, in vitro fertilizationin vitro fertilization
(IVF), technique for conception of a human embryo outside the mother's body. Several ova, or eggs, are removed from the mother's body and placed in special laboratory culture dishes (Petri dishes); sperm from the father are then added, or in many cases a
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, and organ transplants (see transplantation, medicaltransplantation, medical,
surgical procedure by which a tissue or organ is removed and replaced by a corresponding part, usually from another part of the body or from another individual.
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). In the 1970s bioethics emerged as a discipline with its own experts, often professional philosophers, who developed university courses on the subject. Many hospitals now employ experts on bioethics to advise on such issues as how to treat terminally ill patients and to allocate limited resources. Advances in health care, the development of genetic testinggenetic testing,
medical screening for genetic disorders, by examining either a person's DNA directly or a person's biochemistry or chromosomes for indirect evidence. Testing may be done to identify a genetic disorder a person has, whether the disorder is already evident or not,
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 and screening, and the new research in genetic engineeringgenetic engineering,
the use of various methods to manipulate the DNA (genetic material) of cells to change hereditary traits or produce biological products. The techniques include the use of hybridomas (hybrids of rapidly multiplying cancer cells and of cells that make a
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, including gene therapygene therapy,
the use of genes and the techniques of genetic engineering in the treatment of a genetic disorder or chronic disease. There are many techniques of gene therapy, all of them still in experimental stages.
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, have also given rise to questions in bioethics.


See W. T. Reich, ed., Encyclopedia of Bioethics (4 vol., 1978); H. T. Engelhardt, The Foundations of Bioethics (1986); R. Macklin, Mortal Choices: Bioethics in Today's World (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


A discipline concerned with the application of ethics to biological problems, especially in the field of medicine.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Ironically, bioethicists do not directly address the reasons for this state of affairs or the means to correct it: the social, political, regulatory, and financial planning that created scarcity.
There has been abundant litigation surrounding the issue, with the bioethics movement leading the charge to allow bioethicists and doctors to decide when a patient should die.
But on the opposing side, bioethicists and sports commentators say the culture is toxic and spreads to children.
As the bioethicist Carl Elliot has pointed out, every sector of society has its moral dimensions, "yet in no other sphere of our lives [but medicine] has ethics been so thoroughly professionalized ...
However, pragmatic bioethicists point out that not every clinical situation is like every other.
Consistently with the views of some Catholic bioethicists, these hospitals have regarded artificial feeding as an "extraordinary means of life-support" and therefore as something that they are not obligated to provide.
In 2001, when Congress reauthorized the statutory incentives for pediatric clinical trials, it mandated that the FDA establish the Office of Pediatric Therapeutics and include a bioethicist on staff.
The work is unparalleled: 52 essays by Spain's most prominent moralists, bioethicists, and interested physicians.
Based on her other writings, Carrie Gordon Earn is surely a bioethicist whose views are substantially religious.
"Science should stay out of areas that are clearly not dysfunctional," said University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan.
About 30 years ago, a stranger began to appear at the bedside of the sick: the bioethicist. Today, America swarms with ethics experts, thousands of them, dispensing their putative wisdom not only in medicine but in business, law, engineering, sports, and other fields.
"But we still don't know how or if genes work in different ways at different points in our lives--or how much our environment impacts us," says Greg Kaebnick, a bioethicist (biologist concerned with ethics) at the Hastings Center in Garrison, N.Y.