In an age of increasing human rights abuse, should bioethics be a discipline in which political neutrality is either possible or desirable? Here, we discuss the way in which bioethical work cannot be characterised as neutral. We begin with the proposition that even the choice of topics is a political decision, through which bioethicists allocate intellectual resources. On this basis we believe that within the field issues of political and social importance that have an impact on global populations should be prioritized, and that bioethicists should investigate and contribute to public policy and debate. Bioethics should be a normative discipline that seeks to make a difference, as well as being academically rigorous.
Our focus today concerns our professional duties to expose human rights violations and advocate for those who are subjected to deliberate cruelty, through discussion of three case studies where bioethicists have sought to bring to light violations of the right to health and acts of injustice, and what obligations might flow from this knowledge. We focus on the situation of asylum seekers in offshore detention, organ harvesting in China, and recent examples of obesity campaigns.
Deborah Zion: On Beginning with Justice: Bioethics, Advocacy and the Rights of Asylum Seekers.
Angus Dawson: Good Bioethics, Academic Quality and Indifference to Making a Difference
Christopher Jordens: Cruelty as Political Theatre: Australia’s system of Mandatory Immigration Detention
Angela Ballantyne: Indirect levers: reflections on how to achieve change
Kathryn MacKay:‘Click with Compassion’: Public Health Communication in a Cruel Age