Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Doing Ethics in Italy

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Doing Ethics in Italy

Article excerpt

Doing Ethics in Italy

Italy has been the site for a recent flurry of international conferences on bioethics involving Hastings Center staff. Strachan Donnelley, the Center's director of education, participated in a four-day meeting in February 1988 on "Leadership in Bioethics," held at the Rockefeller Foundation's Conference Center, Villa Serbelloni, in Bellagio, Italy. Jointly organized by Edouard Bone of The European Association of Centers of Medical Ethics and Al Jonsen of The Society for Health and Human Values, the conference brought together directors of centers of medical ethics (or their representatives) from Belgium, England, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

The goal of the Bellagio conference was to lay the foundation for cooperation on bioethical issues that are international in scope, especially AIDS issues. Participants also discussed establishing a North American Association of Centers of Bioethics, both to coordinate bioethical research and education in North America and to facilitate international cooperation. This would be a precursor to a world association of bioethics centers.

The Bellagio participants began the meeting's substantive work in comparative bioethics by examining informed consent in medical and research settings. Each center reported on its work concerning informed consent, and three cases studies were presented--an involuntary hospitalization in Scotland, a genetic screening research program for Huntington's Chorea in Sweden, and a realimentation study on an elderly nursing home population in Switzerland.

Familiar topics emerged--the relation of law and ethics; questions of competence or capacity for decision-making; the subtle coercion of vulnerable populations, both in research and therapy; patient autonomy and medical paternalism; and the intricate connections between ethics and science, especially in research protocols.

One underlying theme in these discussions was that problems of bio-ethics, including informed consent, are approached differently within different cultural contexts. American Edmund Pellegrino argued that in North America, the tendency is to start with the individual and the ethical principle of respect for persons (autonomy) and then raise questions of decsional competency or capacity with respect to participation in research or decisions about therapeutic interventions. In Europe, Nicole Tery of France contended, the tendency is to begin with the community and to see the individual within a wider social, cultural, and institutional fabric. This places the decision-making emphasis on professional and legal duties and communal resources, rather than on the preferences of individuals.

In April, Susan Wolf, associate for law at the Center, attended a conference in Milan on the relationship of science and ethics sponsored and hosted by the Istituto Scientifico H San Raffaele. Over the course of four days, the participants presented papers on a wide variety of topics. Arno Motulsky and Laurence O'Connell from the United States gave introductory papers on the major themes of the conference. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.