The investigations that are developed in the field of biology can constitute great advances for Humanity, but they can also generate multiple debates. Those ethical dilemmas that arise from this type of research are analyzed by bioethics.
This discipline studies both biological research itself and its applications. Its purpose is to provide principles that will encourage proper conduct of the human being with respect to the different forms of life and the environment in which you can generate the living conditions of the species.
The German religious, educator and philosopher Fritz Jahr (1895 – 1953) was the one who first postulated the concept of bioethics. Jahr coined the term in an article he published in 1927 on what the ethical bond between people and animals and between people and plants should look like. Over the years, and the advancement of science, the notion became more important.
It can be said, in a broad sense, that bioethics encompasses all those ethical conflicts that are related to life in general. What bioethics seeks is that moral rectitude and values govern the actions of man with respect to all forms of life.
The abortion is one of the issues that concern bioethics, where it is debated at what point life begins. Euthanasia is also the object of study in this branch of ethics. Another issue that interests bioethicists is cloning.
Fundamental principles of bioethics
In 1979, two bioethicists named James F. Childress and Tom L. Beauchamp established the four principles that lay the foundations of bioethics, which are defined below:
* autonomy: it is the ability of a living being to establish its own rules or norms without external pressures influencing its decision. The nature of this principle of bioethics is imperative and it must be respected as long as the individual does not have limited autonomy due to health problems, which must be justified. In the field of medicine, the highest expression of this principle is called informed consent and constitutes one of the rights of the patient as well as one of the duties of the doctor;
* beneficence: it is the obligation to take into account the benefit of others before acting, setting aside prejudices to focus on their true interests. Physicians should promote actions that respect the needs of patients without allowing their opinions to get in the way. The reason for such a way of proceeding, according to this principle of bioethics, is that the professional has the appropriate tools to help the patient and decide what is best for him, something that has sparked various controversies;
* non-maleficence: consists of intentionally avoiding any act that may cause harm or harm to others. This should apply to all areas of life, although our species is far from letting others live in peace. In the specific field of medicine, this principle is not always easy to see, as professionals sometimes cause a certain amount of damage to obtain a certain objective, and for this reason they can reinterpret it in such a way as to indicate “do not harm anyone unnecessarily”;
* justice: each individual must be treated as an equal, without prejudice regarding their ideologies, ethnicity or economic situation, among other aspects of their person. The fight against inequality is one of the most relevant of our era, and without a doubt the most powerful people have a fundamental role to put an end to discrimination, the unfair distribution of goods and hatred based on physical or ideological differences.