Fritz Jahr's 1927 Concept of Bioethics
Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 2007 December; 17(4): 279-295
In 1927, Fritz Jahr, a Protestant pastor, philosopher, and educator in Halle an der Saale, published an article entitled "Bio-Ethics: A Review of the Ethical Relationships of Humans to Animals and Plants" and proposed a "Bioethical Imperative," extending Kant's moral imperative to all forms of life. Reviewing new physiological knowledge of his times and moral challenges associated with the development of secular and pluralistic societies, Jahr redefines moral obligations towards human and nonhuman forms of life, outlining the concept of bioethics as an academic discipline, principle, and virtue. Although he had no immediate long-lasting influence during politically and morally turbulent times, his argument that new science and technology requires new ethical and philosophical reflection and resolve may contribute toward clarification of terminology and of normative and practical visions of bioethics, including understanding of the geoethical dimensions of bioethics.
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