Let’s take a look at lobotomies, operations in which doctors break connections in patients’ brains to treat conditions such as depression and schizophrenia. At the height of lobotomy practice in the 1940s, prior to advancements in mental health care, this ice-pick-through-the-eye-socket procedure appeared to be sound. The treatment even snagged a Nobel Prize in 1949 [source: Jansson].
Today, we might be shocked that these things were considered OK. But in life, there are humans behind science, and what these people consider “right” and “wrong” can change. That’s the trick with ethics, the study of right and wrong. Accepted beliefs evolve. So how does ethics work in medicine, and how might it be different a century from now?