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From the Editor: At the Borders of Bioethics

What are the boundaries of bioethics? Where does bioethics give way to other kinds of ethics—organizational ethics, environmental ethics, social ethics, or just ethics? According to one commonly cited account of the origin of bioethics, the field always had a relatively broad remit; it was supposed to be about the ethics of the life sciences in general. In the early days of bioethics, however, the topic that seemed most in need of critical attention was the encounter between experts in medicine and the laity—doctors or medical researchers on the one hand and patients or medical research subjects on the other. Even given the narrow focal point, however, bioethics very naturally expanded.

Much of the September-October 2018 issue of the Hastings Center Report either argues or assumes that bioethics extends well beyond into social ethics. A special report published as a supplement to this issue pushes the point explicitly.

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