Bioethics: real life or an “esoteric puzzle”?

Micheal Cook

Corruption is not a chapter heading in most bioethics textbooks. But a passionate article in a recent issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests that it is fundamental. “If bioethicists are now the guardians of medical ethics, how is it that they have nothing to say about medical corruption?” ask two American and one Indian bioethicists.

The springboard for their call to action was the election of Ketan Desai as president of the World Medical Association in 2010 after he had been removed as president of the Indian Medical Association for corruption not once, but twice. How could this have happened? “Is biomedical ethics just casual talk? Is it merely medical etiquette, philosophical window dressing, full of empty rituals and little substance? Do doctors take ethics seriously?” the authors ask.

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