CiRA Reporter vol.24
October 29, 2020
Jusaku Minari

The Fashion of Ethics

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CiRA Reporter

In one of his books, the philosopher Kiyokazu Washida introduces the new potentials or implications of words. For example, he writes about the Japanese word “sara,” which roughly means “new” in English. “Sara” can be used when replacing something with something new. For instance, you can use this word for clothes, where “sara no fuku” means new clothes. In his writings, he used “sara” to introduce the topic of a “fashion-driven society,” as in a society that is attracted to what is fashionable, or new. In society, it is not only products such as clothes, foods, and electronics that go in and out of fashion. Thoughts and ideas are also subject to this attitude.

When you look at academic studies, it seems difficult to apply sara, because research is established on past discoveries and is not something that can be replaced. Yet, in a fashion-driven society, the replacement of academic fields is possible. In the life sciences, recombinant DNA and genome editing technologies have reshaped new fields of genome science, resulting in what can be described as a new fashion. Research on bioethics tends to be affected by these fashions when scientific research sways traditional views and values.

Although fashion in the academic domain is in some way inevitable, researchers must consider fashionable and unfashionable ideas in bioethics in order to consider universal values as well as views on life, the body, and society for posterity. I would like to work on bioethics research while carefully achieving a balance between fashionable and unfashionable types of research.