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Studies & Degrees in Bioethics

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Bioethics is a branch of Philosophy which is primarily concerned with the questions of moral issues in a medical setting. Bioethics in itself is a specialized field that branches from Ethics in Philosophy, which is the study of how humans act and react in a situation that requires a careful consideration of moral principles. As a discipline of the social sciences, Bioethics is quite a new one, having been established in the academe in the 1970s, when professional philosophers began to offer classes in several universities discussing ethics in relation to the biological sciences and health care in particular.

Students of Bioethics would need to familiarize themselves with the basic concepts of medicine, gaining a better understanding on human health and diseases and what causes these illnesses. This would help them grasp the moral issues concerning decisions that have to be made by the doctors and other medical practitioners about their patients and the diseases they are treating.

Aside from this, historical knowledge is also important when trying to understand medical cases like epidemics in order for the students of Bioethics to be able to analyze epidemics and plagues from the past and see how they can be related to epidemics emerging nowadays.

Bioethics also deals with the possible conflicts that may arise from decisions made by medical practitioners in their effort to protect the health of the public while upholding human rights. This would include issues concerning quarantine and the preventive measures that must be done against communicable diseases.

Perhaps one of the most controversial issues that have risen among philosophers specializing in Bioethics would be the medical advances that are happening in the field of genetic studies. This would include topics like genetic screening, genetic engineering and even gene therapy. All three are arguably important to all medical practitioners’ work in curing and preventing diseases, but there are also moral issues involved that would have to be considered seriously concerning the value of human life and artificial ways of saving it. Some other controversial issues students would be facing are those questions concerning abortion, euthanasia and even artificial fertilizations.

Within the discipline of Bioethics, there are also some specializations. An example would be Neuroethics, which has to do with the questions of ethics regarding the treatment medical practitioners might prescribe for neurological illness.

Of course, it is normal for hospitals nowadays to have a Bioethics expert to give advice on the best course of action regarding a terminally ill patient as well as allocating medical help and supplies in the case of limited resources. On the other hand, students who do not wish to work in a medical environment can also teach in colleges and universities as well as become bioethical consultants for medical and educational publications.