The Emergence and Development of Bioethics in the UK

Ruth Chadwick, Duncan Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bioethics emerged in a specific social and historical context. Its relationship to older traditions in medical ethics and to environmental ethics is an ongoing matter of debate. This paper analyses the social, institutional and economic factors that led to the development of bioethics in the United Kingdom (U.K.) in the 1980s, in and the course it has taken since. We show how phenomena such as globalisation, the focus on ‘ethical legal and social issues’ (ELSI) and the empirical turn have affected the methods employed, and argue that ongoing controversies about the nature and possibility of ethical expertise will affect its future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-201
JournalMedical Law Review
Issue number2
Early online date4 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Bioethics
  • History
  • Methods


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