Centres of Ethical Gravity: A Comparison of Responses to Contemporary Biomedical Dilemmas Among Young People in Sri Lanka and England.

  • P V.R Kumarasiri
  • S N Arseculeratne
  • P D Premasiri
  • B Simpson

Abstract

The achievements of contemporary biomedicine and biotechnology are now widely communicated across the globe. Yet, across different cultures and belief systems, the relationship between the possible and the acceptable when it comes to biomedical advance is highly variable and draws justification from a wide range of sources: culture, religion,‘common sense’, family values, ideas of what is‘natural’, ideas of what is progress etc. Students’attitudes towards science and by extension toward the new biotechnologies have been extensively researched western contexts. However, relatively little is known about how this relationship plays out in different cultural contexts and there is even less by way of empirical research in this area. In this paper, we are interested in two related questions, the answers to which, we hope will begin to fill these gaps. First, we consider how culture and religion feed into bioethical deliberation among an emerging generation of‘bioethical citizens’drawn from Sri Lanka; the contrast that we go on to make with students from the UK is both illuminating and instructive. Second, we consider the points of bioethical conver-gence and divergence between the two groups. We conclude by offering some observations about what we have coine‘centres of ethical gravity’and what these might tell us about cultural relativism and the operation of bioethical sensibilities in different cultural contexts.

Author Biographies

P V.R Kumarasiri

Department of Community Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

S N Arseculeratne

Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

P D Premasiri

Department of Pali & Buddhist Studies, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

B Simpson

University of Durham, England, UK

Published
2008-09-30
Section
Independent Articles