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Why the Topic of Bioethics in Science Classes?

A New Look at an Old Debate

What Does This Mean For An Educator?

If the acquisition and manipulation of all types of knowledge is dependent upon exposure to content, properly timed experience, and practice with different types of reasoning skills, then this strongly suggests two things about the process of conflct resolution. In the first place, we need to provide an opportunity for our students to engage in discussions that allow them to examine their own values, as we do with other forms of knowledge. Secondly, that discussion must have a real world context in which the moral reasoning process may occur. When one looks at classrooms in which open discussions around principles and values occur, increases in the level of moral reasoning occur. If we decide not to include bioethics in the science curriculum, we are assuming that students will develop these reasoning skills and acquire this moral knowledge in the context of science related issues, in another comparable environment. That is risking a lot.

The importance of these norms which interface scientific thinking with social practices is not to be overstated. Some of these values help to balance our individual selfish tendencies by imposing the need for us to consider what might be beneficial to the whole group. And, if object knowledge can modify brain structures and subsequently shape our perceptions of the world, then moral knowledge should be able to change social practices as those practices subsequently modify what is valued. We can assist adolescents in creating their own concept maps for the manipulation of objects and do likewise for values. This will happen not with our prescription of those values or norms, but by facilitating the process of adolescent self discovery.

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