DOI: 10.1111/bioe.13258 ISSN: 0269-9702

Anchor bias, autonomy, and 20th‐century bioethicists' blindness to racism

Robert Baker
  • Health Policy
  • Philosophy
  • Health (social science)


The central thesis of this article is that by anchoring bioethics' core conceptual armamentarium in a four‐principled theory emphasizing autonomy and treating justice as a principle of allocation, theorists inadvertently biased 20th‐century bioethical scholarship against addressing such subjects as ableism, anti‐Black racism, classism, and other forms of discrimination, placing them outside of the scope of bioethics research and scholarship. It is also claimed that these scope limitations can be traced to the displacement of the nascent concept of respect for persons—a concept designed to address classist and racist discrimination—with the morally solipsistic concept of autonomy.

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