Social science and bioethics: The way forward

Raymond De Vries, Leigh Turner, Kristina Orfali, Charles Bosk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


It is no surprise that bioethics and sociology developed an adversarial relationship: bioethicists value the clear descriptions of ethically charged situations provided by social scientists, but doubt the ability of those trained in social science to logically derive and discern 'the good'. For their part, social scientists - experts in observing and collecting data about the way the world is - find bioethicists ignorant of the ways elegantly crafted solutions to ethical problems get altered when incarnated in varied social and cultural settings. This discipline-centred self-affirmation can be a satisfying exercise, but it offers nothing to the project of promoting more moral medicine and health care. The articles collected in this volume demonstrate the value of collaboration between social scientists and bioethicists. Focusing on four themes found in recent sociological research in bioethics - ethics of research, the creation of moral boundaries, bioethics and social policy, and the bioethical imagination - this anthology offers practical models of co-operative work where the strengths of each discipline are brought together to advance our understanding of bioethical issues and to show the way toward just and effective social policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-677
Number of pages13
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioethics
  • Empirical ethics
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Medical sociology
  • Sociology of science


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