APPROACH TO BIOETHICS
The purpose of this book is to explain the science of molecular biology and its applications in biotechnology. This chapter does not attempt to teach bioethics as such, but attempts to survey briefly the moral issues arising from advances in biotechnology. In each section, we have indicated problems and possibilities. We have asked a lot of questions but given few definite answers, because we feel that moral decisions are for the reader to make, not the authors. On the other hand, we have not attempted to artificially hide our own biases, and these are fairly obvious in several cases. In practice, many moral questions have been decided, either by general public acceptance or by the imposition of laws. Nonetheless, laws may be repealed and what is viewed as morally acceptable constantly changes.
Much of what is regarded as “official” bioethics derives from the clinical arena, including the practice of medicine as well as clinical trials and experiments. Although these principles still apply to the testing and use of clinical protocols that involve genetically engineered materials, they do not cover many of the newer issues in genetics and biotechnology. Instead of dealing with traditional, clinically oriented ethics, we have chosen to consider issues that have arisenfrom recent scientific advances. The list of topics was generated, in part, from an informal survey given to students. Before dealing with the individual scientific topics, some general issues are discussed.
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