Doing Ethics: Who are We and What Do We Do?
Would it seem surprising to my visitors to this bioethics blog that the answer to the question in the title of this post (“Doing Ethics: Who are We and What Do We Do”) is still an unsettled issue? But it is. In fact there is still discussion by ethicists when and for what reasons the discipline of bioethics was named and started. In fact there is debate as to the history of the concepts and the many terms usually used in bioethics.
I have found that the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH), the national organization representing many of the individuals who “do ethics”, has tried to provide some guidance with respect to the question of this posting’s title. For example,in their initial publication on the subject in 1998, they produced a report titled “Core Competencies for Health Care Ethics Consultations”, which though not as yet legally considered the standard for ethics consultations, does provide a framework which could be followed as ethics consultations remain part of the healthcare system.
I would like to offer to my visitors an excellent detailed analysis of the posting’s title in the 2004 “ASBH Taskforce Report on Ethics Consultation Liability.” Of the 80 page document which speaks to the liability issue from a legal point of view, I think it is the first 17 pages, describing who is considered an ethics consultant and what are the various consultative processes that are practiced,would be of general interest. Thus, reading the first 17 pages should give my visitor some answers to this post's title question. Then if someone asks you “who is a medical ethicist and what are they doing?”, you will be able to come back with at least some realistic answer. ..Maurice.