Bioethics as Practice

By Judith Andre

272 pp., 5.5 x 8.25, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5583-6
    Published: August 2004
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6121-9
    Published: October 2003
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7277-7
    Published: October 2003

Studies in Social Medicine

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Those who work in bioethics and the medical humanities come from many different backgrounds, such as health care, philosophy, law, the social sciences, and religious studies. The work they do also varies widely: consulting on ethical issues in patient care, working with legislatures, dealing with the media, teaching, speaking, writing and more.

Writing as a participant in this developing field, Judith Andre offers a model to unify its diversity. Using the term "bioethics" broadly, to include all the medical humanities, she articulates ideals for the field, identifies its temptations and moral pitfalls, and argues for the central importance of certain virtues. Perhaps the most original of these is the virtue of choosing projects well, which demands not only broadening the field's focus but also understanding the forces that have kept it too narrow. Andre offers an imaginative analysis of the special problems presented by interdisciplinary work and discusses the intellectual virtues necessary for its success. She calls attention to the kinds of professional communities that are necessary to support good work.

The book draws from interviews with many people in the field and from the findings of social scientists. It includes the author's personal reflections, several extended allegories, and philosophical analysis.

About the Author

Judith Andre is a professor at the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences and in the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University.
For more information about Judith Andre, visit the Author Page.


"Perhaps the best contribution to understanding the work of bioethics and bioethicists to date. Andre shows us frontline bioethics. . . . An enormous contribution. . . . A snapshot of a field at the crossroads of a Hamlet-like adolescence."—Mark Kuczewski, Hastings Center Report

"By presenting bioethics as a practice with meaningful internal goods and seductive external goods (e.g., money, status, prestige), Judith Andre has courageously and honestly excavated some of the deepest psychic and organizational labyrinths through which bioethicists roam. Written in a narrative style and spiced with scores of personal interviews, Andre's brilliant book is destined to provoke passion at discussions among bioethicists, health care professionals, and concerned citizens. The field of bioethics owes Andre many thanks for writing a book that accurately describes bioethics as it is experienced in the lives of bioethicists."—Rosemarie Tong, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

"Andre makes a persuasive case for bioethics as a new line of work—virtue ethics in practice. The book's strong suit stems from the author's inclusion of moral as well as intellectual growth among the principal aims of bioethics. An original contribution to a maturing field."—Ronald A. Carson, University of Texas Medical Branch

"What do bioethicists do all day? Judy Andre answers this question with passion and brilliance in Bioethics as Practice. Andre's careful and insightful discussion of the field of bioethics—its routines, hazards, and rewards—places bioethics in larger social and political focus. Everyone even remotely interested in the ethical issues of medicine and the life sciences should read this book. It is the benchmark for future work in the field."—Larry R. Churchill, Vanderbilt University