The Ecosystem of Bioethics: Building Bridges to Public Health


  • Jonathan Beever The University of Central Florida
  • Peter J Whitehouse Case Western Reserve University


Understanding bioethical inquiry as ecosystem aligns that thinking about health conceptually close to public health ethics. Despite having roots in decades-long, culturally-diverse, and disciplinarily-broad concerns about the relationships of human beings to environment as manifest in the work of Fritz Jahr and Van Rensselaer Potter, medical “mainstream” bioethics has maintained a relatively narrow focus on individual health. The practical instantiations of bioethics are inconsistent both with the term’s own historical international contexts and the ecosystemic nature of health, a concept of systems that includes both cultural and biological interactions. Following a growing number of international calls for such change in bioethics, this paper argues that a reinvigoration of bioethics demands transdisciplinary intersections of ecology, value, and health – as a bridge connecting across to the identified projects of public health ethics.

Author Biographies

Jonathan Beever, The University of Central Florida

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Department of Philosophy and

Texts & Technology Ph.D. Program

Peter J Whitehouse, Case Western Reserve University

Professor of Neurology and current or  former Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Psychology, Cognitive Science, Bioethics, Nursing, History, and Organizational Behavior, Case Western Reserve University