The evolution of bioethics into an autonomous discipline is an unprecedented story of success. Not only the moral problems of medicine and health care have burgeoned over the last three decades, but also the preferred methods and concepts to scientifically approach these problems have been moulded into a separate discipline. Two developments are usually regarded as determinative for the rise of bioethics. First, the enormous advances in biotechnology, molecular biochemistry and pharmacology have led to drastic changes in medical knowledge and practice. Many people are not aware how relatively novel many benefits of present-day medicine actually are. Medical students, for example, are surprised to find out that it was only from 1960 onwards that the major medical journals began to describe experiences with fibre-glass endoscopy, coronary contrast radiology, artificial lens implantation, cardioresuscitation technique, and oral contraceptives. New and more effective diagnostic and therapeutic interventions have increasingly called into question the usual goals of medicine. The second development that has transformed the traditional notion of medical ethics is the changing sociocultural context of medical practice. Not only a plurality of values has emerged, but also a non-religiously, secularly-grounded normative view of human life has become more influential. This view emphasizes personal autonomy and each patient’s right to make his or her own health care decisions.
KeywordsEuropean Union Medical Ethic Moral Dimension Personal Autonomy Moral Problem
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