The ethics of life. As a field of study bioethics has expanded from an initial focus on medicine and health care to a focus on life itself. It includes both the goods of human life and the goods of the natural order. Bioethics was initially shaped by the discipline of ethics but has come to include disciplines ranging from the natural and social sciences to history, political science, law, and the humanities in general. This development has arisen in light of new technologies which have raised questions of treatment, development and availability, and questions of consequences for humanity and the environment. These questions concern the nature and meaning of human life, health, suffering, and death; the value of human life in relationship to the value of nature; the nature of technology and the place and responsibility for human action; the specific relationship and responsibilities between the individual and the community, including the extent to which persons should exercise autonomy over their lives; and social questions about the distribution of the goods and burdens of life to provide for the health of the whole community of human and non-human life.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.