- Purchase/rental options available:
Chauncey D. Leake (1896–1978) occupies a unique place in the history of American bioethics. A pharmacologist, he was largely an autodidact in both history and philosophy, and believed that ethics should ideally be taught to medical students by those with philosophical training. After pioneering work on medical ethics during the 1920s, he helped to lay the groundwork for important centers for bioethics and medical humanities at two institutions where he worked, the University of California-San Francisco and the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston. Understanding Leake’s role in American bioethics requires navigating a number of paradoxes—why he was described respectfully in his time but largely forgotten today; how in the 1920s he could write forward-looking pieces that anticipated many of the themes taken up by bioethics a half-century later, yet played largely a reactionary role when the new bioethics actually arrived; and why he advocated turning to philosophy and philosophers for a proper understanding of ethics, yet appeared often to misunderstand philosophical ethics.