Bioethics Discussion Blog: You Know You Are A Bioethicist When...

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Monday, December 10, 2007

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
further statements.

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

4 Comments:

At Wednesday, December 19, 2007 8:17:00 AM, Anonymous kogito said...

Cute one :))

 
At Wednesday, December 19, 2007 8:50:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

kogito, "cute" but is it also realistic? What has been your experience with bioethics and bioethicists and what have you noted about the discipline and those who try to practice it? By the way, this question is for any of my visitors who come to this thread and not necessarily just kogito. ..Maurice.

 
At Tuesday, December 25, 2007 11:43:00 AM, Anonymous cheron said...

oh, so i AM a bioethicist!

These are some of the things I worry about:

-how the production of my food affects the environment, workers, animals
-genetically modified organisms
-the unleashing of nanotechnology
-how the pharma industry is allowed to medicalize every aspect of the human experience
-how our FDA doesn't protect us that well from drugs, but spends resources going after people trying to save their lives with "unproven" methods
-how we're not protected against cigarettes and fake food but are "protected" against "quack" cancer cures we want to pursue
-whether ethical medical research will survive the corporate takeover of our lives
-how the media spins health issues
-whether Vitamin D is being studied as intensively as it should be given its importance to cancer prevention
-whether studying Vitamin D analogues on non-vitamin D replete subjects is ethical
-whether studying ANY invasive drug or medical device on people without exhausting non-invasive methods first is ethical

i don't work in a medical field but have a passion for public health.

 
At Tuesday, December 25, 2007 1:01:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Yes, Cheron, despite whatever is your other occupation, it does seem that you are also a bioethicist! In fact, that is why anyone who pays attention and has viewpoints about ethics and biology is a bioethicist. Really, at this point in the history of the discipline, no other qualifications are necessary. ..Maurice.

 

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