Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Beyond Yuck? (from the Editor)

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Beyond Yuck? (from the Editor)

Article excerpt

Two contributions to this issue belong in a journal of bioethics only if one takes a broad view of what "bioethics" refers to. Usually, "bioethics" is treated as synonymous with "medical ethics." Most bioethics centers are in medical schools and take up issues in medicine, health care, medical technology, and maybe an excursion in research on human subjects. Yet on its face, the word "bioethics" seems broader than that. When Van Rensselaer Potter coined the term, he had in mind the intersection of moral philosophy and the life sciences in general.

The Hastings Center has always operated with the broader sense of the term, and it is certainly the broader sense that applies to this issue. In the lead article, "Brave New Birds," Frans Brom asks whether the notion of `animal integrity' can be of any real use in moral debate and public policymaking. The concept has become especially popular in Europe, partly on the strength of a hope, as Brom describes, that it refers to something empirical, such that everyone could see whether or not an animal's integrity has been violated. (The only disagreement then would be about whether animal integrity is something we actually need to care about.) Brom denies this hope. We can't objectively show each other which interventions into an animal violate integrity. All the same, he suggests, there can still be wide agreement about when and how the notion is invoked, about the cases in which we say that integrity is violated or upheld. There is enough "intersubjective" agreement, in the philosophical idiom, to get on with a productive conversation. …

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