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The Essence of Philosophical Bioethics Research Paper

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Updated: May 8th, 2020


Ethics and moral values act as a guide to different disciplines, which underline the importance of incorporating philosophical views in the development of ethics that direct theoretical paradigms for different disciplines. Philosophy seeks to resolve several challenges that are associated with values, mind, and the power of reason, reality and existence, and knowledge (Teichmann and Evans 1).

It addresses such problems peculiarly since it uses critical analysis, rationality, and systematic approaches. In this sense, philosophy implies the beliefs, attitudes, and concepts that guide a given group of people in a particular discipline of study. Based on this claim, in the discipline of medicine, bioethics becomes an important philosophical construct.

In the first section, this paper seeks to discuss the essence of philosophical ethics by noting how philosophical ethics differs from the law, professional codes, etiquette or manners, and religious ethics. It also investigates the properties of philosophical bioethics that separate it from all other disciplines and must be present for it to be qualified as bioethics.

In this discussion, the ethical considerations for medical practitioners to help in abortion and execution of convicts are used as specific cases for the application of bioethics. In the second section, the paper discusses the personal opinion of the writer on the effects of the course on personal worldview, self-concept, and other behaviors and activities.

Philosophical Bioethics

Different principles form the foundation of different disciplines of study. Principles of bioethics include various aspects that involve the practice of medicine together with environmental science. In the absence of the basic principles, it becomes hard to theorize any particular field of study. The most fundamental premise for bioethics rests on the platform of the role of medical practitioners in the treatment processes.

People involved in the treatment are required to engage primarily in fulfilling the duty that is imposed on them in terms of fostering recovery and ensuring that patients are free from diseases and illness (Bankole and Singh 118). Bioethics develops this principle to set out broad ways of interpretation of the roles of people involved in the treatment processes. In this context, people involved in the treatment process do not necessarily include only physicians.

They also include scientists and researchers in medicine who contribute in one way or another in the alleviation of pain and suffering for patients either through q direct treatment or even in investigating the causation of illness. Thus, the general understanding of a disease does not only entail medical conditions for which patients seek treatment, but also conditions, which prompt patients to seek medical advice.

Another important principle for bioethics is the understanding of the concept of the patient. Patients refer to all people whose various treatment approaches are prepared for rather than the persons who immediately receive treatment. This suggests that all people in society fit in the definition of patients from a bioethics perspective. Medical practitioners owe the duty of care to some people.

Practitioners in the medical field are required to exercise this duty of care in a manner that neither discriminates nor leads to deprivation of the rights of patients and inconsistencies with ethical issues in practices of the medical profession (Bankole and Singh 124). These requirements raise questions in bioethics on the practices of new genetics, the contribution of medical practitioners in the initiation process, and the ending of life and research ethics, among other philosophical concerns.

Consideration of ethical appropriateness in the medical professional practice questions issues on the engagement of medical practitioners in activities involving ending the life of human beings. Such acts include abortion practices and the contribution of physicians in the execution process via the use of chemical and drugs.

In the professional practice of the code of ethics for medical practitioners, medics should not conduct their work in a discriminating manner. Guided by this principle, bioethics raises the question of whether they should permit abortion to take place within the health facilities for which they work especially in the light of the claim that abortion amounts to an act of discrimination of the unborn (Grimes and Singh 1911).

In this context, people should not deny the fact that fetuses have equal rights to life just like all other people and that no group of persons has more rights to life relative to others. Nevertheless, philosophers claim that with references to psychological and physical stages of development, characteristics of fetuses that make them have equal rights to life to their counterpart, adults are not necessarily morally relevant.

In this regard, bioethics considers abortion an ethical practice to the extent that it can save the life of the mother, who has already experienced and is still enjoying the value of life. Hence, it amounts to a breach of duty of care for a medical practitioner to permit a mother to succumb to pregnancy complications.

A good example of how the differences between religious ethics, legal, and bioethics come into play is evident in the ethical approaches to the moral debate of the rights of the fetus and the rights of due-for-execution convicts. The central task that medical practitioners are charged with is to ensure that the life of people is saved through putting in place mechanisms of ensuring that people do not succumb to various ailments (Schuklenk and Kerin 1197).

The main question that emerges is the evaluation of whether they should treat abortion and acts involving execution through medical interventions as political, legal, or social challenges that require the making of decisions before taking part in them and how making such decisions affects their professional codes of ethics.

For instance, before deciding to execute abortion, medical practitioners have to make decisions about whether abortion amounts to murder or not. If it amounts to murder, it implies that they function against the very core professional mandate of saving a life.

Murder, which is illegal and prohibited in law, implies that deciding on the necessity and circumstances under which people should be allowed to procure abortion with the help of medical interventions raises a question of whether it is necessary for the law to legislate morality (Bankole and Singh 119). If this happens to be the case, it also becomes necessary to evaluate the extent to which the law should address morality together with the extent to which the medical practitioners should act against such legislation where necessary.

Religious ethics consider any act where an individual is involved in taking the life of another person inappropriate, no matter whether it is necessary to do so to alleviate pain or even save the life of another person. The claim in support of this position is that God is the sole being who is responsible for initiating life, and the right to take it predominantly rests on His mandates.

Bioethics considers the weight of the argument in support of the act in terms of implications of not engaging in the act and the context of ethical requirements in the medical profession (Schuklenk and Kerin 1196). For instance, while it may appear ethically and morally wrong for a medical practitioner to assist in the execution process, from bioethical context, it sounds ethically appropriate to ensure that execution through the deployment of chemicals or drugs to execute is accomplished safely and in a compassionate manner.

Hence, it is unnecessary and wrong for convicts to undergo a painful execution process due to the failure to administer drugs and chemicals appropriately. The claim is perhaps incredible in the context of considerations of the principles of bioethics requiring medical practitioners, especially those in medical research to develop products that meet the expected application outcomes. While this principle is appreciated in religious and legal ethical debates, the point of departure with bioethics is that the outcome involves death.

The essence of philosophical ethics in the context of bioethics involves delivering the intended outcomes in the exercise of medical obligations for medical practitioners. Based on this assertion, several points of view emerge in terms of moral and ethical debates on the status of infants, embryos, and fetuses (Schuklenk and Kerin 1198). In this debate, bioethics principles advocate, “moral standings that should depend on dispositional capacities” (Schuklenk and Kerin 1199).

This position affects the exploration of various productive technologies together with setting the premise behind advocating the exercise of abortion. Catholics’ bioethical perspectives subscribe to the ethical standard that killing innocent people is wrong irrespective of whether they are adults suffering terminal illness or fetuses (Schuklenk and Kerin 1198).

The bioethics holds that killing a fetus amounts to murder even if the life of the mother is in danger. This position is akin to claim that life initiates at conception. Hence, a fetus deserves an equal moral and ethical treatment that measures up to the moral and ethical treatment given to adults. This assertion introduces the question of whether fetuses are human beings among medical bioethics.

Supporters of the pro-life school of thought within the medical fraternity hold the opinion that uncertainty on whether a fetus has the right to life gives a clear indication and validity of the claim that conducting abortion is tantamount to conscious murder of another person.

This means that if a medical practitioner is not well aware of whether a fetus has a right to life, it is discriminating and ethically and morally wrong to treat it as if it did not have such rights (Grimes and Singh 1910). In this sense, abortion qualifies to be against the law when it is known that the unborn do not have any right to existence or assassination if it is known that it has the legal backup of existence while the medical practitioner must conduct the procedure to protect life.

Effects of the Course on Personal Worldview, Self-concept, and Behaviors and Activities


The evident advancement and development in medicine and administration of health services, has greatly posed interest in ethical perspectives. Globally, bioethics as a field of study has changed the delivery of health services. Different individuals and communities have felt the highly advancing technology in the field of medicine and anatomy and its application in distinct ways.

From a personal perspective, different dimensions on the development of ethical considerations in medicine determine whether some of these technologies are apt, appropriately applied, and how they affect people’s way of life. In this sense, the field of bioethics has kept surveillance on the medical practice and research and its repercussions on human dignity.

Since the inception of bioethics, some of the major issues addressed include organ transplantation, abortion, genetic engineering, euthanasia, and the relationship between patient and health professional among others in line with their future implications. From a global perspective, ethical and moral considerations in professional codes of conduct shape various disciplines so that the commonly adopted practices that are regarded as a norm serve a common good to all people.

Specifically, bioethics has played a great role in influencing people’s culture worldwide, but not without confrontations. In the case of death, the high technology in medicine makes it possible for the patient to live longer where complex and hi-tech machines, artificial breathing, and medicines are used. Evaluation of ethical and moral dilemmas arising from the use of the machines should then focus on the value they add to the realization of the ethical obligation of medical practitioners to save life.


How people think about themselves is important in the enhancement of good relationships and appreciation of other people’s line of view about various issues encountered during interactions processes. According to Baumeister (1999), self-concept refers to “the individual’s belief about himself or herself, including the person’s attributes and who and what the self is” (29). At an individual level, I have always believed in my ability to hold my positions about various life issues.

I subscribe to strong religious beliefs and ethics on matters of the rights of life for people irrespective of their age. I believe that ethics involves the principles that dictate what is bad and good. Through the course, I have learned that the adoption of ethical principles calls for making decisions to do what is right in every situation through reason and consideration of the broad-based views of the implications of the decisions.

I believed that the validity of my point of view about the rights of life is beyond any other convincing attempt to prove them otherwise. Unfortunately, this course has changed this perception. Hence, the course has altered my self-image, which is an essential aspect of self-concept. Self-image refers to how people see themselves. Through the course, I have realized that my self-image in terms of my beliefs does not conform to reality. Indeed, there are other valid convincing arguments contradicting my beliefs on abortion.

This implies that some of the perceptions about moral and ethical debates, especially on abortion, have some flaws and weaknesses. Specifically, I thought and believed that convicts scheduled for execution do not have ethical issues for determining how they arrive at decisions on the manner of execution. Through the course, I have found this a major flaw since death convicts need to be treated with compassion. Inflicting pain on them should be avoided since it is not one of the intended outcomes of the death penalty.

Through the different approaches of interpreting the moral and ethical obligations in the practice of bioethics, my self-esteem was lowered. Although I still believe that my convictions about the rights of life are important, the course has altered how I evaluate and compare myself with other people.

I have realized that upon engaging in debates on ethics concerning issues that surround the debates in bioethics with single-minded point of argument, I am likely to face criticisms and poor response from the bioethical community. This influences my self-esteem negatively. However, it has taught me the importance of embracing different people’s points of view about various issues in my future career. The bottom line is that I cannot always be right or wrong in every issue.

Behavior and Activities

Professional ethics and ethical behaviors comprise an important aspect that shapes people’s conducts within a given profession. I have been studying various ethical and moral obligations that are required in the process of execution of organizational mandates within my career.

Through such studies, I learned the importance of subscribing to my career’s codes of conduct as determined by ethical and moral requirements. However, through this course, I have developed a different opinion about this approach to professionalism in my career. The power of reason in terms of the implications of decisions and practices forms a major mechanism of conviction about the appropriateness of a given behavior.

Now, I consider basing my future codes of behavior and activities within my profession on not only ethical and moral obligations but also the evaluation of the appropriateness of a given behavior or activity in the context of the expected outcomes. For instance, engaging in fraud is a conduct that is prohibited under moral and ethical obligations that guide the profession of business administration.

While such behavior may seem rewarding when viewed from an individualistic dimension, in the context of the outcomes of the behavior, I see the behavior as inappropriate due to its multiplication effects of the negative impacts on the wider organizational community. In this regard, the course forms an essential starting point for justification of the necessity of engaging in ethical manners in my line of career.

Hence, in the future, I will engage in ethical behavior and activities to comply with my conviction on the appropriateness of such behaviors and activities in terms of delivering what is good to all people I will serve, rather than the desire and commitment to comply with professional ethical and moral requirements.


The major debates on whether medical practitioners should treat the fetus in a callous way oscillate around the determination of the premise of whether a fetus is a person with certainty. The point of contention among people inclined to the school of thought that fetus‘ right to life needs to be protected is that even if it could be proved with reasonable accurateness that a fetus is not a person, it is fallacious to presume that it has no moral standing.

Should medical practitioners engage in aiding people to execute abortion or even participate in the execution of convicts while the professional ethical and moral require them to protect life? The response to this query continues to attract heated debate in the discipline of in bioethics.

Works Cited

Bankole, Antony and Haas Singh. “Reasons Why Women Have Induced Abortion: Evidence from 27 Countries.” International Family Planning Perspectives 24.3(2008):117–127. Print.

Baumeister, Richard. The Self in Social Psychology. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press, 1999. Print.

Grimes, Aurther and Benson Singh. “Unsafe Abortion: The Preventable Pandemic.” The Lancet 368.9550 (2006):1908–1919. Print.

Schuklenk, Thiele and James Kerin. “Bioethics.” Philosophical Aspects 3.2(2001).1195-1201. Print.

Teichmann, Jenny and Katherine Evan. Philosophy: A Beginner’s Guide.New York, NY: Blackwell Publishing, 1999. Print.

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