You Know You Are A Bioethicist When...
If you wondered whether you possess the criteria for being a bioethicist, here is a little sample of conditions which would suggest the occupation. An ethicist, Timothy F. Murphy wrote this to a bioethics listserv and gave me permission to post it here. To be frank with my visitors, in order to fully understand the nuance of some of the criteria, you really have to be a bioethicist in the first place. By the way, the graphic on this thread is my tinkering with a photo of Rodin's "The Thinker" statue at the Musee Rodin, Paris.
You Know You’re a Bioethicist when:
As you exercise on the treadmill, you wonder about the ethical,
legal, and social effects of prolonging your own life.
You meet an acquaintance in the supermarket. She asks after your
mother who is in the hospital. You phrase your answer so as not to
violate HIPPA standards.
At a university banquet in your honor, you ask if the chicken has
been genetically modified or been given genetically modified feed.
The waiter at your local restaurant describes the fish of the day but
forgets to mention that the recipe contains chervil. You decry the
restaurant’s failure of informed consent.
Your teenage daughter wants angel wing tattoos on her shoulder blades.
Your teenage son wants scarified rings on his back. You suggest that
they consider whether rule-utilitarianism, act utilitarianism, or preference
utilitarianism will help them make better decisions about body modification.
You see a pregnant neighbor and ask whether her child will be a boy,
a girl, or a clone.
A reporter calls to ask you about a breaking case you know nothing about,
but you nevertheless express an opinion.
Your spouse asks why you were later coming home last night than anticipated.
You advise that you’ll have to get an ethics consultation before making any
When arrested for driving under the influence, you breathe a sigh of relief
that federal regulations prohibit most experimentation on prisoners.
Someone at the White House asks you to serve on the President’s Council on
Bioethics. You protest that you have no qualifications as a bioethicist.
The President appoints you anyway.
Timothy F. Murphy
Chicago, November 2007