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The Real Wisconsin Idea: The Seven Pillars of Van Rensselaer Potter’s Bioethics

Muzur, Amir, Rinčić, Iva, Sodeke, Stephen
Journal of agricultural & environmental ethics 2016 v.29 no.4 pp. 587-596
bioethics, cultural heritage, roots, Wisconsin
Mindful of how the history of bioethics has often been presented, we explore the background, contributions, and influence of Van Rensselaer Potter (1911–2011) on the roots of bioethics. In the last few decades, dozens of papers have been written and published, including several doctoral theses and defenses on V. R. Potter‘s concept of bioethics. In those works, the context of the emergence of Potter’s bioethics has sometimes been suggested, but never analyzed thoroughly. We identify seven pillars of influence for Van Rensselaer Potter’s bioethical credo, drawing on several facts from the rich cultural heritage of Wisconsin, where Potter had lived and worked for the most part of his life.