Challenging the Conventional Wisdom: From Philosophy to Bioethics


Philosophy is a core discipline that has contributed importantly to bioethics. In this essay, the author traces his trajectory from philosophy to bioethics, oriented around the theme of challenging the conventional wisdom. Three topics are discussed to illustrate this theme: the ethics of randomized trials, determination of death and organ transplantation, and pragmatism as a method of bioethics. In addition, the author offers some general reflections on the relationship between philosophy and bioethics.

Philosophy recovers itself when it ceases to be a device for dealing with the problems of philosophers and becomes a method, cultivated by philosophers, for dealing with the problems of men.

—John Dewey (1917)