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Bioethics: Ethics meets healthcare and bioscience

The pharmacy prescription symbolBioethics is a broad subject, but generally consists of the ethical evaluation of issues arising from healthcare and the life sciences. It is inevitable that bioethical issues will continue to arise, so it's important to know how to reason clearly about them. Bioethical reasoning is used to focus discussion, suggest new avenues for progress in healthcare, bioscience, law, and policy, and to expose flawed thinking.

Science and healthcare are hugely powerful tools. But with great power comes great responsibility. If you enjoy thinking about what science and healthcare can do, and also what they ought to do, then bioethics is for you.

Why study Bioethics?

It is almost inevitable that bioethical issues will affect our lives. Sometimes we may be unaware that they do. When deciding to have a child, should the potential parent(s) be able to choose which child they would like to bring into the world? Should they be required to choose the child that is likely to have the best life?

Research on animals is likely to have occurred to develop medical treatments and test their safety. Is it reasonable to use animals in this way? Is it wrong to use animals to test the safety of recreational drugs?

Many things we can choose to do are open to ethical evaluation. Bioethics is the examination of these choices to determine what follows from them, and what the right choice might be.

The ability to identify ethical issues and use reason to evaluate, discuss, and argue about them is a valuable skill. In personal and professional life this skill helps with thinking through choices and conduct. It is also useful for those seeking a future in healthcare and the life sciences to assist with playing an active and responsible role in increasing the benefits they can deliver.

More information about Bioethics

Download the Bioethics infosheet (PDF 150 KB) for more information about the following:

  • Background required
  • Teaching style
  • Postgraduate opportunities
  • Career opportunities

Please contact the Bioethics Centre for further details:

Email bioethics@otago.ac.nz
Web otago.ac.nz/bioethics