Asian Cultures: Providing Historical Antecedents for Contemporary Bioethics
Most western accounts of bioethics attribute the origins of the discipline to developments in medicine and biology in the 20th century. The accounts focus on advances in technology and the subsequent efforts to cope with the unique and unprecedented options offered by such advances for the management of health conditions and the enhancement of human features and potentialities. Because of such a focus, writers have felt justified in projecting a narrow view of bioethics.
However, the history of bioethics is not merely the story of a discipline but a history of ideas. The development of ideas in bioethics has historical roots in Asian cultures as much as in other cultures. These roots need to be acknowledged if the impact of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights is to be maximized in Asia.