Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

International Perspectives on Biomedical Ethics

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

International Perspectives on Biomedical Ethics

Article excerpt

International Perspectives on Biomedical Ethics

One of the favorite old saws of philosophers is the theme of universals and particulars. "Universal forms," say "whiteness" or "catness," in one way or another are involved with particular worldly entities, giving them their definitiveness or character. In turn, the particulars may dilute, muddle, or subtly transform the universals themselves, as concretely realized. This esoteric Platonic and Hegelian theme seems curiously at work in the real world and can be sen in this second international supplement of the Hastings Center Report.

Here the universals are modern science and medical technology. Life-sustaining treatments, organs transplantation, genetic screening, and IVF procedures are found in many places throughout the world. The particulars in the drama are the multiplicity of cultural traditions, both within and between countries. Biomedical ethics, with its various and varying issues and dilemmas--for example, termination of treatment decisions, the definition of death, abortion, and reproductive rights--is the outcome of this contemporary interplay of universal science and medicine and particular cultural traditions.

Thus, on one extreme, we have Solomon R. …

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