On Feminist Engagements with Bioethics
O susretu feminizma i bioetike
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The article explores two questions: what is feminist bioethics, and how different it is from standard bioethics. Development of feminist bioethics, it is argued, began as a response to standard bioethics, challenging its background values, and philosophical perspectives. The most important contribution of feminist bioethics has been its re-examination of the basic conceptual underpinnings of mainstream bioethics, including the concepts of “universality”, “autonomy”, and “trust”. Particularly important for feminists has been the concept of autonomy. They challenge the old liberal notion of autonomy that treats individuals as separate social units and argue that autonomy is established through relations. Relational autonomy assumes that identities and values are developed through relationships with others and that the choices one makes are shaped by specific social and historical contexts. Neither relational autonomy, nor feminist bioethics, however, represents a single, unified perspect...ive. There are, actually, as many feminist bioethics as there are feminisms—liberal, cultural, radical, postmodern etc. Their different ontological, epistemological and political underpinnings shape their respective approaches to bioethical issues at hand. Still what they all have in common is interest in social justice—feminists explore mainstream bioethics and reproductive technologies in order to establish whether they support or impede gender and overall social justice and equality. Feminist bioethics thus brings a significant improvement to standard bioethics.