Featured image of post A Brief Guide to Biomedical Ethics - Part 3

A Brief Guide to Biomedical Ethics - Part 3

A brief review of the basic concepts of Biomedical Ethics. The following concepts will be discussed in this part: bioethics (bioethiks), bioethical situation, good in the broad sense, reverence for life, gratitude, prudence, disease.

Bioethics (bioethiks)

This is an interdisciplinary discipline that focuses on the study and resolution of moral problems generated by the latest advances in biomedical science and practice. The supreme moral value in bioethics is moral and understanding attitude to Life in general and any living being in particular, and care of bios rights. The main principle of bioethics is the principle of reverence for life.

Bioethical situation

This is a non-standard situation in medicine, arising in connection with the latest achievements of biomedical science, practice and biotechnology (in the field of genetic engineering, cloning, transplantology, psychiatry, etc.).

Good in the broad sense

This is everything that is useful for people, their health, satisfying their needs - vital, social, spiritual; correspondingly, it is not good if it is useless, unnecessary or harmful. Good is not the benefit itself, but that which is beneficial, just as evil is not harm itself, but that which is harmful. In modern bioethics the category of goodness, which traditionally appears in the formula “Do no harm”, i. e., use in medicine those means that will not harm the patient, is extended to “not only do no harm, but also do good,” although the interpretation of the concept of goodness itself is not univocal, since Good is relative: there is nothing that is only harmful or only useful. Therefore, good in one respect can be evil in another; what is good for one person can be bad for another. The relativity of the Good in bioethics is particularly evident in the discussion of maintaining life in a vegetative state, cloning of living beings and humans, etc.

A reverence for life

This is a principle of humanistic ethics that requires individual choice, based on Schweitzer’s formula: “I am life that wants to live… among life that wants to live,” according to which one should “treat every living thing with reverence and respect as one’s own life… To preserve life, to move it forward, to raise the developing life to the highest level is to… do good; to destroy life, to obstruct life, to suppress developing life is to… do evil. This is the essential, absolute, basic principle of morality… Hence the ethics of reverence for life encapsulates everything that can be described as love, self-sacrifice, compassion, sharing in joy and striving… In truth, man is moral only when he obeys his inner impulse to help whatever life he can help and refrains from harming anything living. In this approach, the truly moral man is motivated to show equal reverence for his own will and life as for any other.


This is a sense of obligation, respect, and love for another human being for a good deed he or she has done. Unlike in antiquity, where Gratitude was treated as a virtue, in Christianity it is understood as a duty and is related to mercy. From Kant’s point of view, Gratitude as a “sacred duty” of man reinforces the motive of beneficence. Interpretation of Gratitude as an obligation, duty is the subject of discussion in bioethics when studying the moral content of relations between the doctor and the patient, the researcher and the subject, etc.


This is a principle of action that focuses a person on achieving the maximum good. Having separated Prudence from morality, I. Kant showed that Prudence was directed to the natural goal of happiness, and a reasonable act is only a means to it. The concept of Prudence attracts special attention in the search for answers to moral dilemmas of modern biomedicine, determination of its status and principles.


This is a disorder of vital functions of an organism, expressed by physiological and structural changes, arising under the influence of extraordinary (for this organism) stimuli of internal and external environment. Disease is characterized by a general or partial decrease in adaptability to the environment and restriction of freedom of vital activity. The task of medicine is to treat Disease, which consists in the influence of therapeutic factors either on the causes or on the mechanism of its development, as well as in the mobilization of the body’s defenses.

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