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The Report: many voices in conversation.

The Report: Many Voices in Conversation

Let us reassure you that despite appearances, you are indeed reading the Hastings Center Report. While we'll accept full responsibility, praise, or blame, for the cover design, we want to reflect briefly on what the Report is and should be, and how you, our readers and authors, can help us shape the content between the covers.

Shortly after the Institute of Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences was established, the Hastings Center Report was born in 1971 as a modest newsletter of twelve pages. The Report's goal of informing and educating a broad audience to "bioethics" issues was subsequently complemented by substantial scholarly articles and essays contained in the Hastings Center Studies. The "marriage" of the Institute's two publications in 1975 was in part one of convenience, but also grew out of a sense that "public" and "professional" bioethics were becoming increasingly separated, and that a journal that was both intellectually rigorous and generally accessible would merge the audiences and invigorate the discourse. In the intervening years, the Report has walked the fine line between "serious" scholarly journal with articles that challenge the finest of professionals, and "popular" magazine with features adaptable for use even in high school settings. Our acute editorial challenge is to maintain this balance in a way that invites professionalism and innovation by authors and engages the moral reflection and imagination of readers.

As well, the Report aspires to be a public forum for the many professions and disciplines that contribute to bioethics - medicine, law, philosophy, the natural and social sciences, theology - to engage in mutually enriching interdisciplinary conversation on common ground. Our editorial horizons must remain sufficiently broad to guarantee a place in our pages for many voices, lest bioethics become a closed, self-engrossed, and narrow enterprise.

Joining many diverse voices on issues that are both profound and personal in an ongoing conversation that is open, full of vitality, and engaging, is not an impossible ideal, but we do require your help. We need the voices of the best of professional academic scholars who bring their critical and analytical skills to bear on questions that transcend disciplinary boundaries. We need also the voices of emerging, younger scholars who in years to come will carry forward the foundational work of the Daniel Callahans and Willard Gaylins, the Robert Morisons and Leon Kasses, the Paul Ramseys and Hans Jonases.

The Report's tradition of creative and professional scholarship can be complemented by less formal and more open-ended contributions. We want, for example, to encourage the submission of short, provocative essays or personal narratives that explore the links between bioethics as "issues" and as "lived experience." Longer, meditative essays could address the substantive questions animating the whole enterprise of bioethics - the ends of medicine; the relation of science, technology, and society; the nature of human nature; the responsible individual and the moral community. In short, a "prophetic" or visionary voice is as appropriate to the Report as a "priestly" or regulatory one.

The normative and the speculative ought equally to be grounded in the differing values of our many communities, embedded in the daily practice of physicians and patients, researchers and subjects. These "pragmatic" voices too are appropriate to the Report. We want to encourage clinical researchers and practitioners to contribute reports of empirical studies that implicate ethical questions. The more descriptive or interpretative voices of sociologists, historians, and ethnographers can likewise be important both in identifying today's issues and in suggesting tomorrow's controversies.

Finally, the voices of our many readers are important, for bioethics issues touch us all. We want to invite you to write to us, for your help and ideas are invaluable. We welcome formal "letters to the editor" of course, but no less welcome are more informal letters that present ideas and suggestions for us to consider.

In drawing many voices into conversation we are not nostalgic for Babel. Rather, our objective is to inquire more deeply into the complexities of our common human condition; to enrich our practice of doing justice and loving mercy; to search out our human ends in relation to the natural world of which we are a part. At its best, the Hastings Center Report can be at the heart of particular conversations on matters that concern us all, as they take place in classrooms, faculty lounges, physicians' offices, hospitals, and family living rooms. That telos, we hope, will get all of us past the art that graces the cover.
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Title Annotation:Hastings Center Report's objectives
Author:Campbell, Courtney S.; Crigger, Bette-Jane
Publication:The Hastings Center Report
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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