A multidisciplinary approach to an ethic of biodefense and bioterrorism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The five civilian deaths in the United States due to biological terrorism signaled a new age of bioterrorism for the United States and focused attention on our concept of ethics in the conduct of warfare among nations and drove our nation and the world to consider new defenses against biological terrorism. These events raised broad new questions in biodefense ethics, merging formerly disparate areas of bioethics, international relational ethics, environmental ethics, and the ethics of war. Examination of issues in biodefense ethics must include an approach from the perspectives of bioethics, public health, medical ethics, environmental ethics, governmental ethics, international relational ethics, and the ethics of the conduct of war. On the precipice of a world which has changed forever after September 2001, we must take on this threat of bioterrorism in the world and seek to form an international consensus in our bioethical approaches to protecting humankind. An international dialogue might be a useful starting point, with the United States serving to initiate and host an international framework convention to begin a discussion of these issues, beginning from a deontological approach that encompasses an examination of our duties as governments to other countries, to humankind, and to the environment, and our duties as individuals and corporate entities. The warning of bioethicists that biodefense is an area which should not be ignored must be part of humankind's strategy for existence in the new post-9/11 world where the threat of bioterrorism persists.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Applied Ethics of Emerging Military and Security Technologies
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781351894838
ISBN (Print)9781472430038
StatePublished - Dec 5 2016


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