• academic bioethics;
  • bioethics;
  • history;
  • ideology;
  • neoliberalism


An educated guess about the future of academic bioethics can only be made on the basis of the historical conditions of its success. According to its official history, which attributes its success primarily to the service it has done for the patient, it should be safe at least as long as the patient still needs its service. Like many other academic disciplines, it might suffer under the present economic downturn. However, in the plausible assumption that its social role has not been exhausted yet, it should recover as soon as the economy does.

But if, as this paper tries to argue, the success of academic bioethics should be attributed first and foremost to the service it has done for the neoliberal agenda, then its future would have to depend on the fate of the latter. The exact implications of the downturn for the neoliberal agenda are obviously impossible to predict. Among the various options, however, the one of going back to ‘normal’ seems to be the least likely. The other options suggest that the future of academic bioethics, as we have known it, is bleak.