Bioethics is closely related to environmental ethics, sometimes they are identified. Bioethics can be regarded as a new, original trend in ethics associated with major discoveries in biology leading to a change and refinement of such fundamental concepts as personality, life, and death.
Nowadays, humanity is ready to subordinate the living forces of nature to its control, but at the same time, it goes beyond the limits of traditional moral values. The task of bioethics is to define the limits of the use of new tools of life and death, to protect human rights from “mind games” associated with intellectual self-confidence, excessive ambitions and commercial interests of “ministers” of science.
The main directions of research on the biological nature of man are a modification of behavior with the help of “shock therapy,” genetic engineering, surrogate motherhood, cloning, abortion ethics, organ transplantation, a sale of children, sex change, artificial prolongation of life, euthanasia.
The origin of bioethics dated from 1965, when the Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Science were opened in the USA in Hastings (Hastings Center), where active biological studies related to life and death began. Since these studies have touched on many ethical issues that need special consideration, this moment can be considered a moment of bioethics appearance.
One of the first areas that marked a new problem and had very far-reaching consequences is Behavior Modification, known in the United States as “brainwashing.” The first experiments consisted of inserting electrodes into the brain of the subject and, at the right moment, an electric current was passed through them to influence the change in the behavior of the subject in the desired direction. Thus, along with other values, the moral autonomy of the individual was abolished, and the very concept of the individual as an autonomous subject or a free individual was changed. These programs were effective in the treatment of mental disorders. They helped the mentally disabled people in performing externally rational actions that do not involve independent thinking. Nowadays, the most widely used method of behavior change is a “shock therapy”, carried out by the media, including advertising. The “shock therapy” today has a powerful psychological impact, causing stress, frustration, and doubt in the universally recognized cultural values.
The subject of bioethics includes various areas of research related to issues of life and death, organ transplantation, use of animal organs, as well as issues of health preservation or the right to refuse medical assistance for religious or cultural reasons. Some people consider bioethics as a subject that includes all the problems of the relationship between medicine and biology; others reduce to the ethical aspects of applying new technological innovations in the treatment of people.
Let’s consider moral dilemmas of bioethics in this ethical dilemma essay. The most complex and controversial issues of bioethics are related to the problem of death: euthanasia, abortion, organ transplantation, and treatment of defective newborns. Let’s consider some of them.
The dilemma of euthanasia (“good” death) is a popular topic for ethical dilemma essays. Can death be good? This refers to an easy, painless death, death like falling asleep. There are two types of euthanasia: active (actions that promote rapid and painless dying) and passive (refusal of treatment, failure to provide timely needed medication, etc.). Active euthanasia of terminally ill and suffering people is carried out in special hospitals (hospices).
Euthanasia can also be voluntary and involuntary. Involuntary euthanasia is equal to murder, voluntary – to suicide. How to treat euthanasia? There are weighty arguments in favor of euthanasia. The main one is relieving the suffering of hopelessly ill people. However, no less valid are the arguments against euthanasia. They are related, first, with significant changes in the image of the doctor, and secondly, with known facts when terminally ill people recovered. Different countries and cultures solve this dilemma differently.
The problem of determining the moment of death is another direction that should be noted in the essay ethical dilemma example. The emergence of effective life-sustaining technologies revealed the problem: how long the patient’s life should be prolonged, in particular, if his consciousness is irretrievably lost. This situation can create a conflict of interest between doctors and relatives of the patient who consider him alive.
Representatives of the patient, for example, may insist on continuing life-sustaining treatment, which, in the opinion of doctors, is useless. On the contrary, patients (their representatives) may demand the cessation of medical manipulations, which they consider degrading the dying person. Is this person alive and what is a living person? In these matters, there is no clarity. Lawyers make their clarification: anyone who arbitrarily assumes the role of a murderer, even if he or she is guided by charity and compassion, wishing to save himself or herself from unnecessary suffering, is punished. Such situations led to a revision of the criteria for determining the moment of death.
In addition to traditional criteria that is the irreversible stopping of breathing and (or) blood circulation, which can now be maintained artificially, – the criterion of brain death was applied. Death of the brain means that the patient has lost the ability to think and feel. In Holland in 1992, a law was passed permitting patients to stop treatment aimed at prolonging life. For this, it is necessary that: 1) the patient is mentally sane; 2) he or she experiences pain and repeatedly demands euthanasia; 3) his or her attending physician has to consult another doctor regarding condition.
Thus, the right to die was legalized. In 2002, such a law was adopted in Belgium. The right to die speaks of the fear of such a vegetable existence, which degrades human dignity. Not death and this existence seem like the most terrible thing that can happen to a person, but it is a loss of oneself, loss of one’s dignity.
Using stem cells
The problem of using stem cells, especially embryonic stem cells, for research and therapeutic purposes is another interesting issue to research. On the one hand, the use of such cells taken from embryos is particularly convenient and promising from the point of view of researchers; on the other hand, for their production, it is necessary to kill viable human embryos.
This essay ethical dilemma sample can’t shy away from the сloning dilemma as well. Sharp discussions, and then the adoption of political and legal documents on the prohibition of cloning, appeared in 1997 after the first cloned animal – the sheep called Dolly. The object of regulation in this regard is the possible application of cloning technologies to humans. Opponents of cloning believe that such experiments are ethically unacceptable because the patients (future clones) did not agree to the experiment. If we put ourselves in the place of these people, then the answer to the question of whether we want to be in their place will be far from unambiguous. Majority of people do not want to be cloned. It is not clear how the behavior of clone people will change.
An insoluble contradiction exists between supporters of modern biotechnologies and adversaries. The more power a person acquires as a result of the development of biotechnologies, the more dangers there are for the existence (ecological, demographic, medical problems), and for the essence. Some of the latest achievements in medicine (for example, new reproductive technologies), having a good purpose like the reconstruction of health, lead to the destruction of a man as a biological species.
In this sphere (as in many others) a person has fallen into a slipping situation on an inclined plane with the risk of falling into the abyss:
- creating unprecedented benefits, ways of protection, and even scientific achievements in some way increase dangers;
- on another hand creating new threats and risks increases many times the extent and scale of the new possible evil.
What will be the man of the future?
Today this question has become a moral dilemma. Modern high-tech medicine creates new opportunities for “improving” the nature of man, but they cause side effects in the form of degradation of natural abilities when in place of one simple problem there are several much more complex (the effect of the severed head of the dragon).
Genetic experiments lead to such changes in human corporeality that may result in what Francis Fukuyama warns: “We mix human genes with genes of so many species that we will no longer understand what a person is.” They also lead to transformations in human relations and saying “We can find ourselves on the other side of the barrier between human and post-human history and not even see when we have crossed the watershed, because we stop understanding what is at stake.”
Mankind can lose many moral values and moral feelings, being “beyond good and evil,” in an unpredictable and dangerous world. It can be already told about a “new revaluation of values,” as a result of which humanity, love, cordiality, loyalty and family ties become redundant. If earlier children were born as a result of intimate relations between a man and a woman, connected by love, emotional affection, tenderness, and respect for each other, the children of today could be born on a by-order basis.
Genetic transformations carried out by modern medicine create a threat of depreciation of the human body and life itself, a threat of human transformation into biomass. In the context of these threats, risks and new dangers, modern bioethics and environmental ethics are developing. All that is posing the problem of protecting a person, his/her rights and freedoms, as well as limiting strategies for manipulating his/her body.