In an increasingly multicultural and secular environment, which continues to undergo rapid change, it is crucial that formal education and training in the methods of ethical and moral reasoning and analysis be provided as early as possible in the education system. My experience up to and including third level was a dearth of such input. Talks with recent graduates and teaching staff suggest not much has changed.

Common topics of ethical concern include contraception, abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research, in vitro fertilisation and recently, the conflict between Church and State with regard to the handling of child sexual abuse cases and the status of the seal of confession. There is also an evolving philosophical movement that concerns itself with future possibilities in science that are likely to generate new ethical challenges.

There have been a number of initiatives aimed at broadening discussion on ethical issues. The Irish Council for Bioethics, for example, produced a number of important reports and hosted debates on a range of topics including human enhancement. Unfortunately, it ceased operation in 2010 as a consequence of a Government decision to discontinue funding. (Times) >>>

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