Review of Duncan Wilson’s “The Making of British Bioethics” by Silvia Camporesi for the American Journal of Bioethics

“If bioethics is the answer, what was the question? Posed by British philosopher Richard Ashcroft (2004), this question influenced Duncan Wilson when writing The Making of British Bioethics, published by Manchester University Press in 2014 in open access form, thanks to support from the Wellcome Trust (you can download the book in its open access form here: http://www.oapen.org/download?type=document&docid=502670).

British BioethicsDuncan Wilson is a historian of medicine based at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM) at Manchester University. His book is the first of its kind addressing the history of the emergence of bioethics in the United Kingdom through a wide range of sources, from archives and interviews, to bulletins and academic papers.

As Wilson puts it, the “making” of bioethics is “an active and ongoing process that owes as much to agency as to broader political changes”. As demonstrated by sociologist David Reubi [also at SSHM], specific factors shape what counts as “bioethics” in different times and places (Reubi 2010, cited in Wilson 2013, 7–8).

The Making of British Bioethics shares Reubi’s view and adopts an “actor-centred outlook” that investigates the interplay between how specific actors have emerged as bioethicists while at the same time states (the United Kingdom in this case) have created a demand for bioethics (Jasanoff 2005, referenced by Wilson 2014, 11). Adopting this method, Wilson distances himself from other histories of bioethics that focus on topics (e.g., Ferber 2013) or on social factors (Fox and Swazey 2008).”

Silvia Camporesi Reviewed by (2015) Review of Duncan Wilson, The Making of British Bioethics , The American Journal of Bioethics, 15:9, W10-W12, DOI: 10.1080/15265161.2015.1056388

You can read the rest of the review here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/15265161.2015.1056388

If you are interested in the history of bioethics save the date for Duncan Wilson’s seminar at SSHM on December 9th, 2015!

Details will be posted in due time on this blog. For inquiries about the SSHM Seminar Series please contact Dr Hanna Kienzler: hanna.kienzler@kcl.ac.uk

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