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Why the Topic of Bioethics in Science Classes?

A New Look at an Old Debate

by Carolyn Csongradi


In Conclusion

If there is a natural tendency to care, then it is reasonable to assume that moral knowledge, and integrity can and should be nurtured along with content knowledge. The role of the teacher is to facilitate this process, to ask questions and promote learning, as we do in so many other important areas. The real issue is not whether there is a rational explanation for the moral behavior of individuals or for the biological basis of learning. Instead the focus needs to be on whether "unnatural" moral values such as fairness, autonomy, beneficence and non-maleficence are to be nurtured for the individual in hopes society might benefit. The question is: "Will we promote the survival of the society we live in by providing opportunities at critical times for students to engage in content based moral problem solving?" Where better to help adolescents move from a single minded view of self towards a vision of the self in relationship to the needs of others in this world than in the process of teaching science?

In the end, we each must find our own moral model, one that works for us. Living with integrity means knowing our moral code and following it. Hopefully, this is a system which enables us to face, evaluate and make the hard choices now and down the road. Ideally, practicing on situations which mimic life will provide a level of comfort and make the real dilemmas less anxiety provoking. We need to feel what our limits are, accept that others may be guided by different values and perspectives, and respect that most adolescents already have their own internal standards for ethical behavior.


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