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What is Bioethics?

Bioethics is a widely used term within the scientific, medical, legal, philosophical and theological communities. Literally the word means "the ethics of life" (bios being the Greek word for life). It can be defined as the critical examination of the moral dimension of decision-making in health related contexts (the traditional medico moral) and in contexts involving the biological sciences in so far as they treat of the generation, improvement, prolongation and termination of human life (cf S. Gorovitz, cited in Shannon and DiGiacomo, An Introduction to Bioethics, p.3).

It is usually referred to as being interdisciplinary. A large number of disciplines feed in the data which we have to consider in order to make appropriate judgments for human conduct.

Bioethics is not a self enclosed, autonomous set of ethical principles. It is rather the application of general ethical principles (the ones which stand, implicitly or explicitly, behind all your moral decisions) to a specific area. What distinguishes bioethics is its subject matter the life sciences and health care not its ethics.

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