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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 5, 2008

Bioethics and Medical Ethics

Sebastian Schleidgen
Pages 63-73

Sustainable Development and Bioethics
Ethical Thoughts on Decisions about Establishing Biobanks

The so-called Brundtland-Report defines Sustainable Development as a conception of intra- and intergenerational justice, which is to be realized by a globally just distribution of possibilities for satisfying basic human needs as well as by assuring such possibilities for future generations. Hence, any political and/or societal decision is addressed by the ethical demands of Sustainable Development insofar it affects possibilities for satisfying basic human needs. In particular, this concerns – contrary to the widespread opinion that Sustainable Development only has to deal with problems of environmental ethics – the legitimization of biomedical applications. After all, especially such decisions often face the problem of measuring and trading-off potential advantages and disadvantages regarding possibilities for satisfying human basic needs. Based on the example of decisions about establishing biobanks, the paper firstly will show that Sustainable Development actually demands much more from political and societal decisions than just being concerned with environmental ethics. Secondly, it will clarify these demands in detail. Thirdly, it will address the issues of how these demands can be implemented adequately. The paper therefore will show which conditions political and/or societal decision processes have to meet in order to comply with Sustainable Development.

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