Over the last few decades there has been an ongoing debate in bioethics about conceptual questions in the field as well as about the specific role of philosophy and philosophers in bioethical inquiry.
The former debate isn’t primarily concerned – unlike arguably most of bioethicists’ outputs – with providing action guidance and action justification. Rather, it focuses on the study of bioethics itself. At least that’s how the guest editors of a Bioethics special virtual issue see it. MATTI HÄYRY and TUIJA TAKALA reviewed the last quarter of a century of articles published in Bioethics and came up with their ‘best of the best’ list of papers published in the journal on this subject matter. The contents of this special issue are a true treat as far as conceptual bioethics is concerned. Read the guest editor introduction and all articles free here.
MATTI HÄYRY and TUIJA TAKALA note in their introduction to their second guest edited virtual issue of the journal that ‘the role of philosophers in bioethics is not a straightforward matter.’ Accordingly they hunted for germane quality content on this subject matter for this compilation of papers. Spoiler alert, according to Hayry and Takala there is a consensus among philosophers in bioethics that ‘it is the job of philosophers to provide conceptual analyses of arguments, views, decisions, doctrines, policies, and, in general, of anything related to values, norms, duties, virtues, rights, liberties, and any number of entities and notions referred to or employed in moral and political discussions.’ Häyry and Takala note rightly that this consensus gives still rise to conflicting views on such questions as whether philosophers ought to aim for normative conclusions, whether such conclusions ought to be shared with others with a view to persuading them, and so on and so forth. Read the virtual issue here.
Udo Schuklenk is a Joint Editor-in-Chief of Bioethics, the journal of the International Association of Bioethics