Bioethics Across Borders : An African Perspective
Bioethics deals with the ethical problems arising from the developments in life sciences and biotechnologies. Western autonomy-based philosophical framework has dominated the approach of mainstream Bioethics. Yet, many of the assumptions implicit in the Western framework that makes claim to universal validity may not be shared by non-western cultures. Moral pluralism poses a challenge to a common bioethics. Pluralism is understood as a descriptive term, which refers to the existence of different outlooks - moral or religious in a given society. It is simply another word for diversity.Within most western societies, the principle of autonomy sometimes implies that every person has an atomistic right to self-determination. In most African culture, however, the person is viewed as a relational self, one whom social relationships and inter-dependence rather than individualism provide the basis for moral decisions. Through a critical analysis of the Principles of Biomedical Ethics by Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress; the Foundations of Bioethics by H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr.; and the Morality of Pluralism by John Kekes, the author addresses two challenges. The first one concerns the possibility and desirability of a common bioethical framework in a society with a diversity of moral visions. The second deals with what could be the contribution of African thought, philosophy, and culture to such a project. By exploring some of the worldviews of the Igbo of South-eastern Nigeria, the author shows that different cultures have different significances in bioethical analysis. He argues that an acceptable bioethical framework should be sensitive to the cultural realities of the people where it is employed and contextual in its application. At the same time, it should take account of the common morality feature of human experience. He formulates three prima facie common morality principles as meeting the challenge of Bioethics within the African context.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:Ethics; bioethics; pluralism; common morality; ethics; Beauchamp; Childress; Engelhardt; Kekes; Igbo; Africa; culture; worldview; solidarity; community; illness; medical care; Etik; Ethics; etik
Date of Publication:01/01/2007