A New Chapter for Ethics & Medicine Revisited

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It is with great honor and sincere apologies from the editorial staff that I introduce the long-delayed Spring 2021 issue of Ethics & Medicine. This issue marks a new chapter in the nearly four-decade history of this journal. From its beginning in the 1980s and throughout the decades since, this journal has served as an important forum for the critical examination and discussion of bioethical issues at the intersection of science, medicine, and technology, guided by the Hippocratic practice of medicine and the wealth of the Judeo-Christian worldview. The journal quickly grew in the international scope of its engagement, as E&M developed partnerships over the first two decades with the Bioethics & Public Policy Centre, The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity, and the Lindeboom Insituut, as well as established a transatlantic editorial board.

Launched in 1985, under the leadership of founding editor Nigel M. de S. Cameron, the journal was first published in the UK in the wake of the Warnock Report. Given that social milieu, the early years of the journal focused heavily on bioethical issues at the beginning of life, with special focus on the human embryo, but also included several articles examining issues at the end of life, themed issues on AIDS, and consistent concerns for eugenic practices in the context of disability. As the 80s came to a close, articles began to explore the broader issues of the principled practice of Hippocratic medicine—such as confidentiality and increased concerns regarding euthanasia—as well as the growing considerations of biomedical research (e.g., fetal brain transplantation), and the rising practice of reproductive technology interventions.

Subsequent decades saw an expansion of the coverage of the ever-burgeoning array of bioethical issues in the expanding arenas of biomedical research, biotechnology, emerging technologies, and human futures. Under the subsequent leadership of the journal’s recently retired editor, C. Ben Mitchell, the journal accelerated in its expanding coverage of such topics alongside traditional bioethical considerations, as well as to the expansion of a global range of contributing authors. Under Mitchell’s leadership standing columns in clinical ethics case studies and neuroethics were established which continue to the present.

Thirty-seven years of publication brings us to the present, marking E&M as one of the oldest continually published journals in bioethics. As was noted in our last issue, 2021 marks a new chapter in the life of E&M, as the journal transitions from the publication of an independent press (formerly Bioethics Press) to a university publication of Trinity International University and its Bioethics Department. Aside from a new hosting entity under which the journal processes subscriptions and logistics are managed, this transition along with the start of my tenure as editor should be otherwise unnoticeable to our readership. We thank you for your patience throughout the publication delays as we have worked through this transition. Amidst the internal changes in the staffing and structure of the journal’s operations, the editorial staff and editorial board remain committed to the broad engagement of bioethical issues from within the Judeo-Christian Hippocratic perspective that has marked the scholarship published in the pages of E&M over these nearly four decades.

As part of this transition, I am pleased to announce the expansion of our online presence, seeking to enhance the accessibility and ‘searchability’ of our articles, including the launch of open access for our older archives free to all and the availability of online prepublication articles for those who are online subscribers. We encourage you to check the website regularly (https://ethicsandmedicine.com) in the coming months as we continue to roll out new features and expand the availability of individual articles.

We welcome your feedback and suggestions as we continue to expand our online presence. Additionally, we welcome your article submissions, book reviews, and case study discussions. We have recently updated our submission guidelines, so we encourage you to check our website to guide you as you prepare your manuscripts.

Finally, it is my privilege to introduce this present issue, which, as an eclectic mix of articles on a wide range of topics, showcases the broad coverage of bioethical issues reflected in this journal. In the Grey Matters Column, William P. Cheshire, Jr. reflects on the “Ethics of the Extreme,” where he examines extremism through the lenses of neuroscience and moral reasoning. For the clinical case study in the Clinical Ethics Dilemma Column, “Daring to Discontinue Life-Sustaining Treatment,” Ferdinand D. Yates, Jr. revisits a case presentation by Robert D. Orr that explores the ethical permissibility of a patient requesting the removal of his ventilator so that he will die.

Former assistant editor Jacob Shatzer explores progressive approaches to technology in the 1970s for lessons about ways to respond to emerging bioethical and technological issues today in his article, “Promise or Peril? Progressive Evangelical, Technology, and Social Justice in the 1970s.” The editorial staff is grateful for Jacob’s editorial service to the journal over the years and wish him well as he moves on to other endeavors.

Also looking to past examples for future bioethical guidance, Stephen Goundrey-Smith’s takes a similar tact in his article, “Ethical Evaluation of New Biomedical Technologies Using Past Case Studies in Pharmaceutical Medicine.” In his article, Goundrey-Smith examines the ethical discussion of the oral contraceptive pill and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants for lessons regarding the move from therapy to enhancement, offering a four-point ethical framework.

Rounding out the article contributions, Cristina Richie offers a theological context for engaging transhumanism through her article, “A Theology of Human Limitation and Medicine.” The article develops a theology of human limitation through a broader examination of a theology of sin, death, illness, and medicine, before turning back to the implications for engaging with transhumanism.

I am also grateful to our new book review editor Dennis Sullivan and for his leadership in procuring the present reviews included in this issue. Over the coming months, we will be working to catch up on the backlog of publication and hope to roll out at least one themed issue in the next year. We thank you for your continued support of Ethics & Medicine, and look forward to joining with you for the next chapter of this journal. E&M

Cite as: Michael J. Sleasman, “A New Chapter for Ethics & Medicine Revisited,” Ethics & Medicine 37, no. 1 (2021): 5–7.

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Michael J. Sleasman, PhD
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