Bioethics Education: Expanding the Circle of Participants

By Thronton, Barbara C.; Callahan, Daniel et al. | The Hastings Center Report, January-February 1993 | Go to article overview

Bioethics Education: Expanding the Circle of Participants


Thronton, Barbara C., Callahan, Daniel, Nelson, James Lindemann, The Hastings Center Report


Bioethics education now takes place outside universities as well as within them. How should clinicians, ethics committee members, and policymakers be taught the ethics they need, and how may their progress best be evaluated?

Socrates, perhaps the West's first "applied ethicist," consistently pressed the question, Can virtue be taught? The Hastings Center has been much concerned with similar questions: What can education in bioethics realistically hope to achieve--improvement in practice and character, or merely in people's ability to talk about practice and character? How might bioethics education best be conducted--by didactic courses run by academics traditionally concerned with ethics, by mentoring and example provided by experienced practitioners, by some combination of both, or by some new structures altogether? What's the best way to assess how well various attempts at bioethics education are working--by having students write papers or by giving them "moral development" tests?

A good deal of work on these questions appeared in the early 1980s,[1] but the constituency for bioethics education has grown so remarkably in the ensuing decade that the theme needs to be revisited. In the 1980s people with an interest in bioethics were primarily affiliated with academic institutions. While academics are still at the core of the study of bioethics, the field has become a rapidly "expanding circle," now including practicing health care professionals who have not had bioethics in their professional training, members of ethics committees who might or might not be professionals, and policy makers and interested citizens as well. Bioethics' expanding circle now embraces people who take part in an occasional lecture or discussion as well as scholars involved in graduate education and advanced research; bioethics training goes on in hospitals, nursing homes, and community centers, as well as universities. This outreach to new participants and expanded settings parallels a movement throughout the United States promoting lifelong learning. But the spirited interdisciplinary dialogue among widely varied people is so particularly characteristic of bioethics that it imparts a special feeling of excitement and nourishes continued curiosity.

A Core Curriculum

A natural starting point for research into the pedagogy of bioethics is to identify the areas of the field with which every serious student should be acquainted. Six such key areas are:

1. The History of Medical Ethics and Bioethics. From Greek medicine to contemporary health care, medical ethics draws on a rich heritage. Tracing the history of the practice of medicine, the development of codes of ethics, and the progression of ideas regarding such issues as reproduction and death and dying is necessary for an understanding of the field.

2. Theoretical Foundations and Methods of Analysis. Religious traditions and philosophical theories have significantly influenced bioethics. An appreciation of the nuances of moral argument as well as an understanding of standard moral theories and newer approaches such as communicative ethics, narrative ethics, and feminist ethics remain essential elements of understanding the field and taking part in its ongoing conversation. Students of bioethics should be acquainted with these resources, both against the backdrop of the concerns that originally prompted them and as tools that can be used to illuminate cases or policies.

3. Comparative Analyses and Scope of the Issues Encompassed by the Term 'Bioethics.' One problem in this field is first to distinguish and then to relate the perspectives provided by such areas as law, public policy, and religion, tracing both their differences and what they have in common. Abortion provides a handy illustration. If the approach to the issue is through analysis of Roe v. Wade, Webster, or Casey, one is attending to how the issue is configured in terms of the discourse and values of the law; if the focus is on how various resolutions of the issue might be implemented practically, a public policy perspective is employed. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bioethics Education: Expanding the Circle of Participants
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.