10.1What Is Bioethics?
The word bioethics was coined by V.R. Potter in his book Bioethics (1971). However, what Potter claims in this book is that mankind is facing a crisis due to the growth of human population and the waste of natural resources, etc., and that to avoid such a crisis, it is necessary to establish guidelines of common actions that also integrate the accomplishments of humanities and social sciences on the basis of knowledge of biology. He makes an appeal to the mobilization of excellence of intellectual capital for the survival of mankind.
At nearly the same time, a concept of life ethics with a different context, which can be interpreted as "bioethics" today, was born in America. In 1969, through the private fortune of a psychiatrist, the Hastings Center was established in the outskirts of New York, and in 1971, the Kennedy Institute was founded at Georgetown University. These two organizations were the first to initiate bioethical research. In the Encyclopedia of Bioethics edited by the Kennedy Institute in 1978, bioethics has been defined as conducting interdisciplinary research on the attitudes and behaviors of researchers in the life sciences and those engaged in medical care based on certain values and ethical principles. In Japan, bioethics has established its position as an academic discipline that studies over-interpreted medical ethics and various issues concerning the values of life science research.