Bioethics via Africology

Bioethics via Africology

Ike Valentine Iyioke (University of Michigan – Flint, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6061-6.ch003

Abstract

This chapter articulates upon an appropriate rubric towards practice frameworks in regards to Africa. It calls for the careful adoption and adaptation of Euro-American bioethics principles and indigenizing them into the African context via the matrix of Africology (Afrocentrism). Efforts on the specifics of refocusing attention on core bioethics principles and values are a welcome development that would help reflect the local color in various cultures, bolstering the push to come up with an appropriate blueprint for bioethics practice that recognizes the multiplicity of cultures worldwide.
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Brief Background And Potentials

As a discipline, bioethics2 is very young. It is still in its 40s, having emerged in the 1970s in the U.S. (and elsewhere) and catalyzed by biomedical landmark events that gave rise to for example, the Nuremburg Code, the Declaration of Helsinki (DoH), the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS), and the Belmont Report. These are sets of ethical guidelines developed to regulate biomedical and social science research, particularly research with human subjects.

Being so young and with penetrating tentacles, it was only a matter of time before bioethics formative ideology would encounter challenging scenarios at socio-cultural milieus outside of its birthplace and comfort zone.

Accounts of the origin of bioethics are varied. Martensen (2001) states that statesman Sargent Shriver, coined the word “bioethics” in his own Bethesda, Maryland living room one night in 1970. It was at the instance of meeting with physician Andre´e Hellegers, a Jesuit philosopher and then president of Georgetown University, and others, to discuss (President) Kennedy family’s sponsorship of an institute for the application of moral philosophy to concrete medical dilemmas. Martensen however credits author and bioethicist Van Rensselaer Potter for conceptualizing bioethics “expansively” (p. 168). Another source, Irving (2000), locates the embryonic formation of “bioethics” in the 1960s following Congressional and Senate hearings which were called to “address an increasing number of bewildering problems being generated by medical research and the abuse of human subjects” (p. 54). Even so, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy narrative seems authentic too. Crediting Sass’ (2007) work, it claims the German theologian Fritz Jahr whose three published articles in 1927, 1928, and 1934, was the first to use the German term “bio-ethik” (or bioethics). From then on, a new academic discipline was established, and gradually the commencement of

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