The History of Bioethics

Key Ethics Terms for this session:

For a broad overview of bioethics watch Maggie Little’s  Introduction to Bioethics:  Bioethics at the Bedside.  After watching the video read the following two articles:

1.  The Seattle God Committee:  A Cautionary Tale.  While reading the article think about the following points.

  • What was surprising about what you learned about the Seattle ‘God Committee’?
  • What criteria were being used to make judgements about organ allocation in the Seattle ‘God Committee’?
  • What moral obligations, principles, or virtues (e.g. beneficence, empathy, trustworthiness, respectfulness) were/were not displayed in the process of this deliberation?
  • What do you think are the key obligations or virtues missed here?

2.  Read Race, Racism and Access to Renal Transplantation Among African Americans. Your focus when reading this article should be on the highlighted passages.  While reading:

  • Consider how to connect these contemporary issues to the historical case above.
  • What moral obligations, principles, or virtues (e.g. beneficence, empathy, trustworthiness, respectfulness) continue to/ continue to not be displayed in the process of organ allocation?
  • How does social context impinge on the process of renal transplantation?

For Further Reading:

The original 1962 LIFE magazine article by Shana Alexander, “They Decide Who Lives, Who Dies” begins on page 102.