Situated in the applied branch of ethics within moral philosophy, bioethics is the study of what we ought to do or ought not to do and why in the fields of science, health, and technology. Bioethics arrived relatively late to the health humanities vocabulary. Attempting to bridge science (bio) and the humanities (ethics), Van Rensselaer Potter introduced the term bioethics to the United States in 1971. Without this connection, he feared, our very survival as a species was at risk (Potter 1971; L. Lee 2017). Potter recognized and articulated what was then a novel idea: that we must consider Earth’s entire ecosystem as we advance science and technology to improve the quality of our existence. Separately and simultaneously, Andre Hellegers and Sargent Shriver developed what they called a “bioethics institute” at Georgetown University (Reich 1995; L. Lee 2017). Despite creating the same term to describe their new field, their vision differed from Potter’s, focusing on health, health care, and practical problems arising in clinical care and medical research (L. Lee 2017).

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