Etymology of Bioethics

It is a neologism given in 1970 by American biochemist Van Rensselaer Potter II (1911-2001), in his work Bioethics: The Science of Survival, built by bio-, in reference to the Greek bios, to refer to ‘life’, and ética, seen in the Latin ethĭca (feminine of ethĭcus) from the Greek ēthikḗ (feminine form of ēthikós). However, in 1926 the form Bio-Ethik was used by the German theologian Fritz Jahr (1895-1953), in his publication Wissenschaft vom Leben und Sittenlehre (which translates into Life and Moral Sciences), posing a perspective of reflection and questioning contrasting to that of Van Rensselaer, who leaned towards a position in which scientific interest and an element of need predominated.

Bioethics is a point of balance between research and advances at the biological level and the socio-cultural canons of the time. It addresses morally and ethically sensitive issues that tend to confront society, dividing it into two antagonistic positions, deepening in the religious and scientific fields.

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