why bioethics?

The other day, a friend of mine asked me, rather out of the blue, “why bioethics?” It’s a fair question, and it’s not one I’ve ever really explained to people. But trying to think through the process of why and how is a bit of a challenge – I didn’t go back to school planning on a career in bioethics, and the decisions I made that landed me here are ones I largely made by myself. And if you think my external thought process is messy, you should see what it’s like inside my head.

Matt’s not the only one who’s asked, recently, “why bioethics?” Most of the applied ethics job candidates have some background in bioethics, and want to know why I want to go into the field. That makes sense; chances are good I’ll be working with whomever comes on board in some capacity or other, and knowing my motivations is important. Now if only I could articulate them – perhaps I should ask my sounding board (Michael); he might remember things I don’t.

But anyhow, while I’m still internally mulling and externally mumbling about my own decision for bioethics – for the rest of you reading this who share the field, why bioethics? Why did you decide to devote your life to this? What drew you in? Why are you here in this particular gloom and doom level of hell with me? (Not that I’m complaining, mind you – company is always better when you’re contemplating such things!)

Back at ASBH, one of the journal editors was really pushing the idea of approaching certain journals about editing one-off issues on a special topic. I kept thinking about a story Bob Veatch told in August, and the idea of origins. I mean, which of us was bitten by that radioactive bioethicist, and who found a ring laying on the ground, and who had the early childhood trauma? (And I did have this idea prior to the bioethicists as superheroes piece that came out in the ASBH Exchange today, thank you very much.)

So entertain me, fellow crazy people: tell me your origin story. Here, in the comments, or in email if you’re shy…but I do want to know. And when I figure out how to give words to my reasons, I’ll post it…right after I call Matt to let him know what the answer to his question is.