Monday, March 23, 2009

Those Crazy Bioethicists

If you follow the world of bioethics at all, you know there are some strange birds out there. I must admit to taking many of the more radical views and programs of research to spark discussion among naïve freshmen in my ethics classes. And it is not hard to find some wild and crazy views.

A friend of mine sent me this address by philosopher David Oderberg. Oderberg laments the state of philosophical reflection in the industry that has become “bioethics.” I have heard this lament before, but Oderberg goes after it with both analytical barrels blazing. And its excoriating. I love academic addresses that contain such lines as, “I cannot plumb the depths of stupidity of such thinking here,” and “Is this sort of reasoning good enough? I mean good enough outside the pub or the restaurant? (I am being unfair to pubs at the least…”

The reason I am drawn to the world of “bioethics” is that it is one of those crossroads between the academic exercise of ethical reflection and “real life.” But more and more, I come to agree with Oderberg and lament with him that those who dominate the field right now are not doing much thinking of any value. Instead, sophomoric utilitarianism seems to rule the day, and anything technology can do can be justified by any cohort of bioethicists.

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