From the local to the global: Bioethics and the concept of culture

Leigh Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Cultural models of health, illness, and moral reasoning are receiving increasing attention in bioethics scholarship. Drawing upon research tools from medical and cultural anthropology, numerous researchers explore cultural variations in attitudes toward truth telling, informed consent, pain relief, and planning for end-of-life care. However, culture should not simply be equated with ethnicity. Rather, the concept of culture can serve as an heuristic device at various levels of analysis. In addition to considering how participation in particular ethnic groups and religious traditions can shape moral reasoning, bioethicists need to consider processes of socialization into professional cultures, organizational cultures, national civic culture, and transnational culture. From the local world of the community clinic or oncology unit to the transnational workings of human rights agencies, attentiveness to the concept of culture can illuminate how patients, family members, and health care providers interpret illness, healing, and moral obligations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-320
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioethics
  • Concepts of culture
  • Ethnicity
  • Pluralism
  • Universalism


Dive into the research topics of 'From the local to the global: Bioethics and the concept of culture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this