How Can We Help? From "Sociology in" to "Sociology of" Bioethics

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 32 (2):279-292 (2004)
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Abstract

The relationship between sociology and bioethics has been an uneasy one. It has been described as contentious and adversarial, and at least some of the sociologists who have ventured into the territory of medical ethics report back on unfriendly natives. This bioethical ill will toward sociology is not without cause. Sociologists have been quite critical of what they call (with not-so-subtle pejorative overtones) the bioethical project.Two decades ago - when bioethics was just getting up on its organizational feet - Renée Fox and Judith Swazey leveled the charge of cultural myopia against bioethics, noting that this myopia generally manifests itself in the form of systematic inattention to the social and cultural sources and implications of its own thought. They go on to sayifbioethics is an indicator of the general state of American ideas, values, and beliefs, of our collective self knowledge, and our understanding of other societies and cultures - then there is every reason to be worried about who we are, what we have become, and where we are going.

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