Emmanuel Betta

The construction of bioethical expertise in Italy. Committees and institutions 1980-2019

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By the end of the ’40’s bioethics emerged as a growing field of discussion, starting from the debates over human experiments, organ transplants, development of life-sustaining treatment, genetic engineering and new reproductive technology. Twenty years later, the development of bioethics produced the institutionalization of this discipline, both in the academic and universities and in public space. After the birth of Louise Brown, in 1978, many countries founded public institutions or committees for bioethical expertise. Following the European Union recommendations pushing the Member states to the foundation of bioethical national committees, in 1990 Italy established the Italian National Bioethics Committee (NBC). This article focuses on the history of bioethics in Italy, examining the institutionalization of this discipline in the NBC and in the ethics local committees in the ethics local committees. Tracing the origins of this institution, its composition, the profiles of the members, the criteria for the selection of the members, the article examines the identity of bioethics as a discipline through its main institution in Italy and its relationship with politics and religion.


  • Bioethical expertise
  • National bioethical committee
  • Moral expertise
  • Clinical ethics
  • Politics of life


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