Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
Abstracts for the Fifth International Conference: Ethical Issues in Biomedical Engineering, April 3-5, 2009:
Abstract of "Reflections on Morality, Ethics, and Bioethics Decisions"
Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Six MetroTech Center Brooklyn, NY 11201
From the presumed biological evolutionary origins of a urmorality, there eventually developed a conscious set of morality concepts and rules that became less immediate and more abstract, and increasingly shaped by social factors. Today the concepts and precepts of morality have come to form a complex system in which each specialized professional ethics respond with a certain degree of latitude to conditions within its own domain. The raison d''etre of morality is the connection between actions and their possible outcomes, which embodies the concept of risk. The risk considerations underpinning an ethical decision can ultimately lead to better decisions. They can also lead to a better understanding of the evolutionary underpinnings and trajectory of our morality, from that of ancestral species to its present complex construct of ethics rules and beliefs. Determination of possible scenarios, their probabilities and their consequences, as an essential component of a rational assessment of risk, presents difficulties, especially in connection with a new process or a new technology. These inherent complexities in reaching and carrying out an ethical decision can be made more tractable by developing methodologies that can help to learn how to think about difficult issues. For example, a biosoma-environmental paradigm can help insure that in making ethics decisions all necessary components of a rational risk assessment are considered. Rationality, however, is not the only base for ethical decisions. Factors such as emotion, instinct, and tradition, specific to a situation, a societal group or subgroup, or to a profession, can exert a powerful influence on ethics decisions, especially in the realm of health and psychology. An understanding of the interplay between these factors and rational assessment of the risks should be at the base of any ethical decision.