As we have seen, bioethics and sociology have much in common. At the most basic—if typically unacknowledged—level, bioethics, like sociology, is about power. The abuses of the Nazi doctors, for example, not only illuminate the horrors possible when ethical principles are ignored but also illustrate how social groups can obtain power over others and how individuals can be harmed or even killed when this happens. Conversely, sociology, in similarly unacknowledged ways, is at a basic level an ethical enterprise. Hidden assumptions about what society should be like and how society should be changed often underlie abstract, technical socio- logical discussions. Such assumptions often draw on philosophies regarding justice, autonomy, human worth, and other basic ethical issues. Yet in the same way that bioethicists often ignore the sociological implications of their work, sociologists often ignore the ethical implications of the questions they ask, the research they conduct, and the findings their research generates.
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Bioethics and Sociology