The Making of British Bioethics

In 2015, Bioethics, Publications on March 6, 2015 at 9:00 am

Earlier this week, Jonathan Montgomery and I met with Duncan Wilson to discuss the ‘Test Case Biographies’ project which is nearing completion (more on that in a future post). In his own words, Duncan is a ‘modern historian, whose work investigates changing notions of health, disease and morality during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’. October 2014 saw the publication of Duncan’s latest book, on ‘The Making of British Bioethics’, by MUP. Some of the thinking behind the book can be found here, and the official description is included below. Leaving aside the excellent content for a moment, the book has a fabulous retro cover, viewable here and here, and a great story behind it (if you meet Duncan ask him). MUP are asking for the sum of £25 for a hardback copy, but there is a less-well advertised free pdf version of the book, here. This is a superb resource for those interested in the modern emergence of British bioethics, and the open access option will make it especially attractive as a teaching tool/companion. (Belated-)Congratulations to Duncan on the conclusion of this particular project, and best of luck with the next one!

Description: The making of British bioethics provides the first in-depth study of how philosophers, lawyers and other ‘outsiders’ came to play a major role in discussing and helping to regulate issues that used to be left to doctors and scientists. It details how British bioethics emerged thanks to a dynamic interplay between sociopolitical concerns and the aims of specific professional groups and individuals who helped create the demand for outside involvement and transformed themselves into influential ‘ethics experts’. Highlighting this interplay helps us appreciate how issues such as embryo research and assisted dying became high-profile ‘bioethical’ concerns in the late twentieth century, and why different groups now play a critical role in developing regulatory standards and leading public debates. The book draws on a wide range of original sources and will be of interest to historians of medicine and science, general historians and bioethicists.

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