Bioethics: Critical Conscience of the Technological Society

“Bioethics can make a tremendous contribution, despite public opinion that it is something that limits science and research; I think that the fundamental task of bioethical reflection is to set priorities, and thus to decide what research should focus on and what should in some way be set aside for the future.”

Dr. Adriano Pessina is a Professor of Moral Philosophy, Department of Educational Sciences, and Director of the University Center for Bioethics, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore – Milan. He spoke as part of Humanitas University Bioethics Course, a series of 16 seminars that will go on until June 2020. 

“Above all, bioethics can lead us to thinking about medicine as a sort of branch of knowledge on the tree of humanity. The fact that this university’s name is Humanitas is no coincidence. I think that bioethics can help us avoid a purely commercial model in which medicine creates its own needs, thereby creating elements of production, in a vicious circle whose core is not the individual and his or her health but production.”

“We are living in a period of conflict, of misunderstanding; our work should establish shared rules, a common language. Philosophy provides us with this language; bioethics is an endeavor that anyone can undertake – doctors, biologists, scientists, physicists; it is a philosophical endeavor in which the truth can be the fertile ground for an encounter between diverse cultures, peoples, and languages.”

Prof. Pessina concluded by leaving a valuable message to medical students:

“One of the most important things that students today must do is to validate their beliefs, meaning, according to Descartes, that before they try to change the world and its habits and costumes, students must reflect on their own thoughts and opinions. A place to reflect, an ability to order one’s opinions and beliefs, and thus an ability to communicate with others, is decisive.

Doctors have before them not an object, but a subject.”

Watch the full interview to Prof. Pessina (in Italian language) or read the entire English transcript.

The 2-hour seminars will be held on Wednesdays from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Read more about Humanitas University Bioethics Course.


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.