Biol Res 41: 119-123, 2008                                      LOLAS ET AL. Biol Res 41, 2008, 119-123                   ...
120                            LOLAS ET AL. Biol Res 41, 2008, 119-123two most common ethical traditions of               ...
LOLAS ET AL. Biol Res 41, 2008, 119-123                        121health professions, and the respect for              bio...
122                            LOLAS ET AL. Biol Res 41, 2008, 119-123projects under evaluation and by lay people,        ...
LOLAS ET AL. Biol Res 41, 2008, 119-123                                      123LOLAS F (2002b) Bioética y Medicina. Santi...
124   LOLAS ET AL. Biol Res 41, 2008, 119-123
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Fernando lolas 2008

  1. 1. Biol Res 41: 119-123, 2008 LOLAS ET AL. Biol Res 41, 2008, 119-123 BR 119Bioethics and animal research. A personal perspectiveand a note on the contribution of Fritz Jahr1FERNANDO LOLASInterdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, University of Chile (Collaborating Center of the World HealthOrganization) Bioethics Program, Pan American Health Organization, E-mail: lolasf@chi.ops-oms.orgABSTRACTReviewing fundamental aspects of bioethics and outlining the work of the Bioethics Program of the PanAmerican Health Organization, this paper draws attention to the work of a forgotten pioneer- Fritz Jahr- whocoined the term bioethics in 1927 and anticipated many of the arguments and discussions now current inbiological research involving animals-Key terms: Bioethics, Biological research, Pan American Health Organization, Fritz Jahr.RESEARCH: INVENTION, INNOVATION AND sometimes does not produce new data orTRANSFORMATION new applications but new ways of interpreting reality and human works.Research is the core activity of modern All three processes may be involved inscience and technology and can be defined research but usual practice tends to separateas the production and dissemination of them and produce independent communities.valid, reliable and generalizable knowledge. Teams involved in invention (or basicKnowledge is not simply information, but research) may or may not engage ininformation organized according to a innovation (applied research). Nevertheless,legitimate social interest (utility, beauty, transformation is a result of research ateducation, profit) (Lolas, 1998, 2000). institutional and personal levels. Institutions Three social processes comprise research. not engaged in research are different fromInvention is the creation of new concepts or those having this activity as one of theirways of constructing observational realities. missions or objectives.It increases intellectual input and may be Since research (and not erudition) is theconsidered the type of research that core of science as social practice, itprofessional scientists value most, usually necessarily involves risks, benefits, andcalling it “fundamental” or “basic”. harms that may affect the lives of persons,Innovation is the creation of new ways of groups, or societies. From the moralapplying or modifying realities uncovered by standpoint, all research has consequences, asinvention. It increases practical output. historical lessons show. This means thatHence, the term “applied” usually used in every human action, even no action, hasconnection with medicine and engineering, moral consequences, irrespective of the wayfor example. Transformation is the in which people choose to analyze itmodification of persons and institutions as a (religious, philosophical, etc.). All humanresult of knowledge production. It is usually activities are subject to ethical scrutiny,the intellectual impact of the humanities and since ethics is the rational reflection aboutthe social sciences, whose contribution moral life and its effects on humanity. The1 During the preparation of this paper, the author received support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the University of Heidelberg, GermanyReceived: March 7, 2008. In Revised form: April 7, 2008. Accepted: April 7, 2008
  2. 2. 120 LOLAS ET AL. Biol Res 41, 2008, 119-123two most common ethical traditions of medical experimentation and legislationsWestern thought –deontology, or the theory later considered discriminatory andof duties, and teleology, the theory of inhuman, not only in Germany but in otherconsequences- have become associated in countries as well. At the time of thethe discourse of current bioethics, which can Republic of Weimar, when Jahr writes,be conceived of as social process, Julius Moses had been able to passdisciplinary matrix or procedure for legislation on proper human experimentationreaching conclusions, and academic product. (1931) that some doctors during the Nazi regime did not comply with, as demonstrated by the Nuremberg trial of doctors and itsBIOETHICS: THE WORD AND ITS MEANING impact on research practice (Weizsäcker, 1947; Eckart, 2008).The first documented use of the word This is not the place to trace the originsbioethics dates back to 1927, when Fritz and evolution of Jahr’s concept of bioethicsJahr, a protestant pastor and theologian and the developments it accompanied orfrom Halle, gave the title “Bio-Ethik: Eine anticipated at a time characterized by aUmschau über die ethischen Beziehungen complex mixture of nationalist sentiments,des Menschen zu Tier und Pflanze” to an heroic nihilism, and political turmoil.article published in the journal Kosmos. Suffice only to say that its relevance for(Jahr, 1927). biological research employing animals is The main idea behind Jahr’s article was still open for anticipate what he later called “the In the decade of the seventies of the XXthbioethical imperative” (Jahr, 1934). century Van Rensselaer Potter also used theParaphrasing Immanuel Kant with the term meaning a wide consideration ofcategorical imperative, Jahr suggested that solidarity in the biosphere. He later insistedall living beings were entitled to respect and on his proposal of a “global ethics”, ashould be treated not as means but as ends in science of survival for the human and otherthemselves (Engel, 2004; Sass, 2007a, b). animal species (Potter, 1970, 1971). Distancing himself from the teachings of During the last decades of the XXthHindu scholars whose viewpoints could be century the term was employed in a varietyconfused with his own, Jahr addressed the of contexts. Two main streams can bebiblical Fifth commandment (prohibition to discerned: an application of ethicalkill) in its implications for the welfare of reasoning to medicine and the healthanimals and plants and examining, mostly sciences and a general ethical standpoint forfrom a theological point of view, what can the analysis of science and considered a “humane” treatment of Initiatives linking the humanities and theliving beings. In his1934 paper, he asserts natural sciences and the coalescence ofthat the bioethical imperative is self evident “cultures” have been in the Zeitgeist of thein relation to animals, in the sense that it XXth century (Lolas, 1998, 2002)appeals to conscience not to torture or Different meanings of the wordotherwise inflict damage on animals “bioethics” make it difficult to formulate a(referring mostly to mammals) but that definite set of principles constituting aplants should be accorded similar treatment. consolidated discipline. Resistance to itsAnd concludes “Als Umschreibung des use has been observed in some Europeanfünften Gebotes ergigt sich der bio-ethische countries. In the developing world, someImperativ: “Achte jades Lebewesen have used the term with political intentiongrundsätzlich als einen Selbstzweck und to question developments in industrializedbehandle es nach Möglichkeit als countries. Resource-poor settings havesolchen!”(Jahr, 1934). accepted bioethical concepts inspired by It should be recalled that the Zeitgeist of European and North American institutions.the first decades of the XXth century Currently, bioethics is an umbrella termproduced in Europe a curious fusion between covering different attempts to humanize thelaws and regulations placing limits on scientific enterprise, the practice of the
  3. 3. LOLAS ET AL. Biol Res 41, 2008, 119-123 121health professions, and the respect for bioethics practiced to-day is principialism.human rights in economics, politics, and The most widespread form of reasoning issocial research based on so-called intermediate principles, between higher order values and rules of conduct. The principles outlined in severalVARIETIES OF BIOETHICS documents like the Belmont Report, Declaration of Helsinki, CIOMS Ethical It is no wonder that with such diverse Guidelines and others are autonomyorigins and usages, many forms of bioethics (respect for persons), beneficence, non-can be discerned. Topics addressed by maleficence and justice. Some authors addbioethics have a long past but a short trustworthiness, reciprocity, solidarity,history (Lolas 2002a). truthfulness, relevant to the pursuit of One aspect relates to basic and applied scientific research including projectresearch with human and animal subjects. planning, data collection, sampling, andMedical consequences of advances in publication (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001;genomics, organ transplantation, stem cell CIEB, 2008).research and biotechnology along with their The essential thrust of bioethics is theethical, legal, and social implications dialogical nature of decision making, basedconstitute an expanding area of bioethical on deliberation. All stakeholders andreflection. beneficiaries of research and innovation Bioethics has also analyzed the interface should partake of the ideas, risks, benefits,between scientific communities and lay and outcome of research. This includespeople. Politicians, legislators, entrepreneurs, sponsors, researchers, administrators, servicewithout formal scientific training need to be providers, research subjects and public atinformed about science and technology in large.order to make informed decisions on resource One implication of bioethics for theallocation, public policy and regulatory conduct of research is the need to sharepractices. Cases contributing to the visibility information, decision, and outcome beyondof bioethics have been violations of moral the scientific community to those who maycodes disseminated through public media. use or apply scientific knowledge. A codeWithout such exposure, important documents of ethics for scientists should includesuch as the Nuremberg Code, the Declaration provisions for obtaining and maintainingof Helsinki, the Belmont Report or the public trust on the self-regulation of scienceCIOMS Guidelines would not have received and technology. Most of the classicalattention (Lolas, 2001) documents elaborated so far derive from Delivery of services, priority setting in situations in which rights of persons ornational or international contexts, respect for animals were violated or not adequatelyhuman rights and solidarity or reciprocity in respected in the name of scientific progress.dealing with vulnerable populations orethnic minorities belong also to thebioethical enterprise (Lolas et al, 2007) INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF BIOETHICS Considering these different domains,bioethics is clinical, research-oriented, The dialogical nature of bioethics hasregulatory, cultural and commonsense. Its created new social institutions or reshapedpractice is influenced by religious, gender old ones. For research, research ethics(feminist bioethics) and political committees, called Institutional (orconsiderations. Independent) Review Boards in the US and Data Safety and Monitoring Boards to review, approve, and follow up projects.THE PRACTICE OF BIOETHICS Experience suggests that research ethics committees should be close to theIn many regions of the world, Latin institutions, be integrated by membersAmerica included, the common form of without conflicts of interest related to the
  4. 4. 122 LOLAS ET AL. Biol Res 41, 2008, 119-123projects under evaluation and by lay people, Salud Oral-Bioética (ISSN 0718-2392) and alawyers, priests and other experts. series of books on research ethics, social There exist also committees charged bioethics, and clinical ethics, all freelywith oversight of clinical practice (hospital available at the websites (Cf. PAHO BIO,ethics committees) or associated with 2008; CIEB, 2008)professional organizations. At the level ofstates, provinces, or nations, some countrieshave higher-level commissions for THE CONTRIBUTION OF FRITZ JAHR TO THEaddressing conflicts or clarifications arising BIOETHICS OF ANIMAL RESEARCHfrom ethical oversight or for formulatinglong term and long range public policies. As a theologian and educator, Fritz Jahr did A growing body of literature is not explicitly address scientific research withconcerned with characteristics and animals when he coined the term bioethics.operation of these different types of Most of what has later been said, however, isbioethical institutions (Cf. CIEB website) anticipated in his writings. Beyond the “humane” conduct of research indicated by the famous “three Rs” (replacement,USES AND ABUSES OF BIOETHICS reduction, refinement) and the appropriate treatment of animals (Russell & Burch,Bioethics is not simply application of 1959; Cardozo et al., 2007), what is mostphilosophical notions to scientific problems remarkable is his notion of the “bioethicalor a new formulation of classical imperative”. It summarizes withoutprofessional deontology. It is a dialogic fanaticism or fundamentalism what is owedform of deliberation considering social to animals as living beings, what can beinterests and the cultural or religious norms reasonably expected from advances in theabout what is proper, what is good and what regulation of research and what the trainingis just. The institution of the committee or of investigators should consider.the consultative group stresses the socialcharacter of the bioethical enterprise.Bioethics can be misused as a political tool REFERENCESor as a means of exercising power. Thepotential usefulness of bioethical BEAUCHAMP T L & CHILDRESS J F (2001) Principles of Biomedical Ethics. New York: Oxford Universitydeliberation can be downgraded to Press, 5 th ed. (First edition 1979)antiscientific discourses and superficial CARDOZO, C, MRAD A, MARTÍNEZ C, RODRÍGUEZadmonitions against “ethical imperialism”. E, LOLAS F, editors (2007) El animal como sujeto experimental. Aspectos técnicos y éticos. Santiago de The program established by the Pan Chile: Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios en BioéticaAmerican Health Organization (PAHO) in Universidad de Chile. (available at with the University of Chile and bioetica) CIEB (Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios en Bioética,the Chilean government in 1994 aims to Universidad de Chile) http: // ethical oversight over research with ECKART W (2008) Personal communicationhuman subjects, evaluate health policies ENGEL E M (2004) O desafio das biotécnicas para a ética e a antropología. Veritas 5: 205-228from an ethical point of view, and extend JAHR F (1927) Bio-Ethik. Eine Umschau über die ethischenresearch and publication to ecological ethics, Beziehungen des Menschen zu Tier und ethics and animal research (Lolas, Kosmos.Handweiser für Naturfreunde 24(1): 2-4 JAHR F (1934) Drei Studien zum 5. Gebot. Ethik. Sexual-2004, 2006 a,b, 2007). The commitment und Gesellschaftsethik 11: 183-187extends to ecological, biological, clinical, LOLAS F (1998) Bioética. El diálogo moral en las cienciasand social issues and is reflected in the de la vida. Santiago de Chile: Universitaria (2ª edición Santiago: Mediterráneo, 2001)flagship publication‘Acta Bioethica (ISSN LOLAS F (2000) Bioética y antropología médica. Santiago0717-5906). It also maintains a virtual de Chile: Mediterráneolibrary on bioethics with the support of LOLAS F (2001) Aspectos éticos de la investigación biomédica. Conceptos frecuentes en las normasBIREME (http: // escritas. Rev Méd Chile 129: 680-684es/home.html) , publishes the newsletters LOLAS F (2002a) Temas de bioética. Santiago de Chile:Bioética Informa (ISSN 0717-6112) and Universitaria
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