Biological Anthropology and Ethics: From Repatriation to Genetic Identity


Biological Anthropology and Ethics: From Repatriation to Genetic Identity

EDITED BY TRUDY R. TURNER

Anthropology can be defined as the study of humankind in all its aspects. Biological anthropology is one of the four fields of anthropology. Cultural anthropologists, archaeologists, and linguists approach the breadth of the study of the human experience from the touchstone of culture. Biological anthropologists concentrate on the biological basis of human behavior, diversity, and evolution using evolutionary theory as the major organizing principle. It is a particularly diverse field of inquiry. Practitioners of the field face an array of ethical issues as they confront their involvement and obligations to their research subjects, their discipline, society, and the environment. These issues are complex and often contentious. Many biological anthropologists are most familiar with the issues in their own particular subfield; they are not always aware of the similarities across subfields. The participants in this volume represent the major subfields of biological anthropology—primatology, genetics, human biology, paleontology, and skeletal biology. Each participant has confronted ethical challenges in his or her work and has reflected on the nature of ethical challenges and principles in the discipline. The underlying assumptions inherent in the ways we address these ethical issues provide the norms (or principles of action) of the discipline. A code of professional ethics, a common consensus, forms the framework for the ways members of our profession should act.


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