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Sense of discomfort, American bioethics


Yesterday, Christian Steineck, Associate Professor at Bonn University, who is currently staying in Japan for a couple of weeks, came to Osaka. He and I went to the Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper Osaka branch, and had a talk with a Yomiuri journalist. Our talk will be published in Yomiuri Shimbun Osaka. We talked about our conference held last month in Tuebingen.

I stressed that German bioethics and Japanese bioethics resemble with each other in that both share an unwillingness to affirm "eugenic" technologies, utilitarianism, and direct intervention with human body and life. One of the reasons of this resembrance is probably Japanese philosophy (and jurisprudence) has been greatly influenced by modern German philosophy (and jurisprudence), and another reason would be that Germany and Japan was the executers of eugenics and human experimentation during World War II, namely, Auschwitz and Unit 731 etc.

Christian said that while the United Utates and Germany share Christianity and the tradition of European philosophy, German philosophers feel a "sense of discomfort" when importing American bioethics to their country. Of course, similar things happened in Japan.

I think it is very important to research on this sense of discomfort, because American bioethicists usually do not feel one. They have never tried to import bioethical thoughts outside the United States, particularly those of Asian, Islam, and Latin American countries. The problem of this sense of discomfort has not been the subject of their bioethical research. Thier interest in world bioethics is mainly based on their anthropological curiosity, such as "this kind of interesting discussions are going on in Japan, China, India, etc.". (Of course American liberal bioethicists feel a sense of discomfort to American conservative one, and vice versa, in their country.)

What do you think about this?

Photo: Albany, NY, USA

   -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

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Hy Masahiro, in US things are different, you are right. At all the gap between conservative and liberal view seem to be very big in US, the discussion emotionally strong( I remember your report how some disabled persons entered the room and so on) where in Germany the things just are different, a lot of young persons have ethical problems to directly work with embroys. That´s the way I think the situation is. In Japan it seems to be even in public a strong resistance on biotechnologies like cloning.
But from what I read here I think you are right that German and Japanese culture have a lot in common. They are more conservative that means less open to experiments, then US.
Thanks your Arash

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