Tracing the roots of European bioethics back to the Ancient Greek philosophersphysicians


  • Eleni Kalokairinou


bioethics, ancient Greek medicine, philosophers-physicians, Hippocrates


Contrary to the usual claim that Bioethics is a contemporary discipline, I argue that its origins

can be traced back to the Ancient Greek philosophers-healers. In classical antiquity

philosophy was almost inseparable from medicine not only in the sense that philosophers

like Empedocles, Plato and Aristotle contributed to its development, but also in that later

philosophers conceived of moral principles and rules in order to prevent the physicians’ malpractice

and the patients’ harassment. From this point of view, the philosophers-physicians

Hippocrates, Galen and Celsus have laid the foundations of the science known under the

name of "Bioethics".