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Being Mindful of the Body: Enriching the Conceptual Background of Bioethics

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Contemporary Bioethics suffers from a severe impoverishment of theory, making it a poor resource for dealing with the raft of new problems emerging from the rapid growth of biotechnological innovation. A widespread reliance on formulaic approaches to ethics, like the Four Principles of Beauchamp and Childress and the seductive appeal of simplistic versions of Consequentialism, has prevented the scientific community from seeing the complexity of the moral issues they are raising. In this essay, it is suggested that all this is a legacy of Cartesian Dualism, the foundational theory of modern medicine and science. The false dichotomy this creates between the mental and the physical results in an ethics that overlooks the richness of humans, as embodied persons. We have to escape from Descartes' error in order to create an ethical theory that respects our humanity. An illustration of how this might be worked out can be found in a critique of the meteoric rise of “cosmetic medicine”, which seeks to deny both ageing and death. Somehow we must recover the fragility of beauty.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Stem cell research, cloning, GMOs ... How do regulations effect such emerging technologies? What impact do new technologies have on law? And can we rely on technology itself as a regulatory tool?

    The meeting of law and technology is rapidly becoming an increasingly significant (and controversial) topic. Law, Innovation and Technology is, however, the only journal to engage fully with it, setting an innovative and distinctive agenda for lawyers, ethicists and policy makers. Spanning ICTs, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, neurotechnologies, robotics and AI, it offers a unique forum for the highest level of reflection on this essential area.

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