Written by ForeignExchange Translations on Thursday, May 03, 2012
By way of background, bioethics, according to Wikipedia, is:
...the study of controversial ethics brought about by advances in biology and medicine. Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, and philosophy.When applied to China, some may argue that bioethics is an oxymoron.
Earlier today, Pharmalot's article China, Bioethics & The Wild West: Joe Explains made just this point. Noting the vast differences between East and West, interviewee Joe Powers (the "Joe" in the article's title) gave the following example:
Take a sense of autonomy, for instance. We're used to a system where the individual has the right to consent to a clinical trial or a treatment and to understand what they're going through and to be able to get out without coercion. In China, this can be very different. A family member may make decisions. There are cultural taboos in connection with certain diagnoses. A doctor is inclined not to tell a patient they have cancer and instead will tell a family member. And they'll tell the patient that they're fine... In China, a patient may enroll in a clinical trial because a physician may have coerced them or they may refrain from seeking information – all out of respect for the physician. The patient dynamic can be very different. And these are differences we take for granted, but make it challenging for running trials in China...Oh my, those Chinese... just look at how crazy things are over there!
Or are they?
Instead of China being "crazy", could it be that the Western view of bioethics is wrong or, at least, just self-serving? One of the commentators questions the assumption that the Western standard is right, that the Western view of autonomy for example has the right to supersede a standard accepted in that society for millenia and says that it "[r]aises a question where colonialism and a sense of colonial superiority is alive and well versus the Western assumption that the "modern" global standards really are superior."
A simple and fascinating question. What do you thing, gentle readers? Is there an "absolute" standard regarding bioethics or is it just another example of the West trying to impose it's mores and norms on the rest of the world?
You can follow ForeignExchange on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.