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Bioethics in Asia: in Transition

  1. Minakshi Bhardwaj

Published Online: 15 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005893.pub2



How to Cite

Bhardwaj, M. 2010. Bioethics in Asia: in Transition. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Cardiff University, ESRC Cesagen, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JAN 2010


Bioethics in Asia is in transformation. In parallel with technological innovations in medicine and other fields the importance of bioethics is gradually recognized. Asia is a vast continent with huge diversity of religious, social, cultural and political values. Asian perspectives are equally diverse in moral reasoning and ethical decision-making. Research developments in biomedicine and technological advancements in genomics have brought new dimensions to debates on informed consent, privacy for example, and new concepts are developed as an attempt to integrate local values in global issues. Bioethics in Asia is explored both from country perspectives and conceptualized from religious and philosophical views. As much as Buddhist and Confucian views have dominated Bioethics debates in Asia, gradually Islamic, Hindu and Jain perspectives are beginning to surface. This article attempts to provide an overview of contemporary bioethical debates in Asia, and how such debates within the region are also influencing global debates.

Key Concepts

  • Asian perspectives are diverse in moral reasoning and ethical decision-making.

  • Islamic, Hindu and Sikh perspectives are beginning to surface in bioethics debates in Asia where Buddhist and Confucian perspectives traditionally dominated in academic debates.

  • Integration of local cultural values is encouraged in global issues, such as informed consent.

  • Family and community values dominate decision-making.

  • There is a huge gap between biomedical research and clinical applications.

  • Genetics is increasingly becoming understood in the public domain.

  • There is a growing momentum to compete with the west in medical research.

  • Questions are raised if there is ‘one’ Asian Bioethics, given the multicultural societies within Asia.


  • trust;
  • filial piety;
  • genetic testing;
  • population research;
  • biobanks;
  • multiculturalism