Are philosophers sceptical of bioethics?

Michael Cook
4 May 2014
Reproduced with Permission

A junior bioethics scholar has vented her frustration about her job search in the blog . Dr Keisha Ray says that many philosophers do not even regards bioethics as a real discipline.

During the interview process … I have experienced the expected: Troublesome resistance from philosophers who do not see the value of bioethics and the value of students receiving a bioethics education. I have experienced the implication that bioethics is not philosophy or the very direct "well, your work is not really philosophy." … Some of this discouragement even came in the form of the direct and frank phrase of "Why would you want to study bioethics? That's not philosophy. Why don't you pick a real philosophical specialization?"

She responds with an interesting description of the field to which many bioethicists would subscribe:

"As a branch of applied ethics, bioethics is the application of reasoning and critical thinking skills, ethical thought, and argumentative skills to aspects of life that are essential to who we are as individuals and to who we are as communities. Everyone at some point in his or her life has or will experience the topics that a good bioethics education makes us think, reason, and argue about. Bioethics is inescapable - it forces us to confront questions about what is the good life. And for those students who choose not to pursue a career in medicine or bioethics, the skills learned in a bioethics course are applicable to any career choice or to many of the circumstances that we find ourselves in during life's obstacles."