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Of the many branches of applied ethics that have developed over the past few decades, bioethics is by far the most prevalent. Bioethics centers pepper the academic landscape, institutional review boards are now standard fixtures at most research universities, there are separate bioethics programs for research exclusive to bioethics, and some of the most successful and widely-read applied ethics journals are journals in bioethics. While the Center does not restrict itself to questions in bioethics, it boasts some of the nation’s top experts on reproductive issues. Michael Tooley, David Boonin, and Alison Jaggar have each made their mark on the issue of abortion.


In addition to the more “electric” bioethical issues (such as abortion, euthanasia and issues of informed consent), Center faculty and students work on many new philosophical problems that arise from modern medical technology (such as therapeutic cloning, stem cell research, and genetic engineering). They are also concerned with the philosophical analysis of the underlying principles and distinctions used within these debates (such as the common reliance on moral asymmetry views), as well as the policy issues that arise from the philosophical discussions of bioethical issues.


In his work in bioethics, Tooley has focused on abortion, euthanasia, and cloning. In the case of abortion, he has defended the view that abortion is never morally wrong in itself, since human embryos and fetuses are not persons, and it is only persons who have a right to life. With regard to euthanasia, he has argued that voluntary active euthanasia is not morally wrong, and that it ought to be legalized. Finally, in the case of cloning, he has argued that while the creation of persons via cloning is probably morally problematic at present, there is no objection to it in principle, and it should certainly be seriously explored, since cloning of persons would have a number of benefits.


In addition to Tooley’s work, Boonin’s recent A Defense of Abortion has attracted international attention. Other faculty members are working on medical research ethics, feminist approaches to medical research ethics, and on applied issues of how medicine and our duties to others interact.


David Boonin has published several articles and a book on the ethics of abortion. He has also published a paper on arguments against active euthanasia, and has strong interests in other topics in bioethics including cloning and genetic engineering.

Michael Tooley has focused on abortion, euthanasia, and cloning. His 1972 article "Abortion and Infanticide" has been reprinted multiple times and is seminal in the bioethics corpus.

Eric Chwang received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton in 2003 and an M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in 2005. He is interested in normative ethics and applied ethics, especially in the areas of paternalism, medical ethics, and research ethics.



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