Biomedical ethics

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Student’s Name
Professor’s Name
Biomedical Ethics
Gene therapy and gene enhancement.
Despite the fact that current technological advancements in the medical field, particularly
genetics, being of potential importance in helping to health the sick and improve the quality of
life, there is a potential of lacking clear medical benefit. It is also true that there is the likelihood
of these methods being unethical or improper. It has often been found very difficult to articulate
the difference between gene therapy and gene enhancement. This is principally because; these
two scientific methods are usually not mutually exclusive, the experimental technique involved
is often the same and it can also be challenging to measure the standard of health improvement
against which these two measures are placed.
Therapy may be described as a treatment for a particular disorder or deficiency whose
main aim is to make an unhealthy person restore back their health, improve someone's quality of
life. Enhancement, on the other hand, is a modification or extension of some specific given
characteristics, capacity or activity (Harris, p184). Often to avoid this confusion in
biotechnology, enhancement is usually used for events that are not medically therapeutic. Before
the administration of either of these techniques, it is worth noting that there must be some
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rationality on the patient’s side. The consent to the intervention must also be validly given to the
In my stance, genetic therapy is broadly and distinctively different from gene
enhancement;, especially in their moral and ethical obligations. I deem treatment to be
permissible and acceptable in situations that are life-threatening and require emergency attention.
On the other hand, enhancement mostly seeks to alter something that is already naturally perfect,
in a bid to make it better. This is both morally and ethically wrong. A scientist should be not only
indebted to their talents, but also responsible for the achievements that they make.
Should a physician always tell the patients the truth?
Is it right for a physician to lie to the patient or rather fail to unveil the truth just to relieve
the patient’s anxiety and fears? This is often a question that seems to be easy but also very
difficult to handle. Not telling the truth not only has many forms, but it also has many purposes,
and the consequences are equally very different. This is a matter that requires a severe utmost
attention because most patients in the contemporary world of health care are likely to experience
severe harm if they are not told the truth. It not only compromises the autonomy of the patients
but also leads to loss of physician-patient trust, that is a significant factor as far as patient
compliance is concerned.
Honesty is a matter of importance on both the physician and other medical professionals.
When the reputation for reliability of a physician is lost, it, therefore, goes without saying that
medicine as a profession is at stake (Katz, p69). Most people deem trust as the capability of
someone being honest and hence not likely to cause any harm. It is through such conviction that
the patients can confide in the doctors and seek their advice. Treatment or a particular
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prescription is more likely to work when the patient has faith in the doctor (the placebo effect),
and this is often dependent on the level of sincerity of the physician to the patient. This is a
visible indication of how truth plays a crucial role in medicine.
The truth can be compromised in many different ways. When the relationship between
the doctor and the patient is short-term, where the decisions to be made are in a compressed
period, there is usually less opportunity to worry about how the truth impacts the patient.
However, when the relationship is long-term, there is much likelihood of withholding the truth
temporarily, for compassionate reasons. This is mainly seen in relationships such as that between
a psychiatric patient and a doctor. Such relationships have stronger bonds, and the treatment
therapy is more of treating the illness rather than the disease. In my stance, I deem the truth to be
essential but conditional, such that it will be applicable in some conditions and be withheld in
other exceptional circumstances.
Cultural relativity and patient autonomy
The primary focus of Macklin’s investigation was to investigate the moral dilemma that
exists between the patients and the physicians, based on their cultural diversities and differences.
He deems cultural pluralism as a factor that poses a severe threat to the healthcare sector,
especially to the multicultural states like the United States. Such states are characterized by visits
to the hospitals by people from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. Despite Macklin
describing the whole model of multiculturalism to be a factor that embraces the act of ethical
relativism, it is in real life, not logically consistent with relativism (Macklin, 20).
In his argument, he does not only think that all the cultural, religious and ethical beliefs
should be treated equally but also adds to the fact that they should just be treated equally in light
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to the conformity to the principle of justice as a model of equality. In my viewpoint, I think that
this idea, as presented by Macklin in noble and worth embracing. Through embracing it, it will
lock out the cultural, religious and ethical beliefs that may not be in line with the provisions of
human rights. On the other hand, it will ensure the accommodation of the cultural diversities that
embrace the acts of humanity in their beliefs and principles.
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Works Cited
Harris, John. "Is gene therapy a form of eugenics?." Bioethics7.23 (1993): 178-187.
Katz, Jay. "Informed consent-must it remain a fairy tale." J. Contemp. Health L. & Pol'y 10
(1994): 69.
Macklin, Ruth. "Ethical relativism in a multicultural society." Kennedy Institute of Ethics
Journal 8.1 (1998): 1-22.

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