Bioethics. By Georges H. Kieffer

On 8.3.2021 I was told to have a look at Kieffer's Bioethics. I found and have in front of me a first Spanish edition by Alhambra from 1983. The English original is from 1979. Dr. Kieffer was born in 1930, he was a professor at the University of Illinois but I have not been able to find out if he is still alive. From his work he seems to be a wise man with a passion for improving the world. It is the most comprehensive book I have seen so far, raising together the main questions of ethics and biology.

The book is 495 pages long and is divided into three parts: a first part of 60 pages devoted to preliminary questions on ethics, the second one contains the body of the book of about 300 pages devoted to medical issues (genetic engineering, abortion, euthanasia, human experimentation, behavioral control, ...). And a third one on non-medical ethical issues: obligations towards future generations, ethics of nature, ethical considerations on population and on who should be in charge of scientists.

As is well known by now, my interest is to see if anyone has already seen and said my ideas and if there is anything to confirm or refute them. I have read in detail the first and third parts, which are the ones that seem most relevant to my questions. I have noted down sentences from 30 pages of the first part and as many of the third part. I quote and comment on the most significant ones:

. Pp.5/8. At the beginning of the introduction he lists the moral and ethical issues of the new biology and sums up the situation by saying that: " ...we are at present technological giants but ethical infants". I believe that this, or worse, is still our situation now. In these 40 years we have made much progress in technology but the problems have worsened, the uncertainties have increased and there is still no "philosophical, moral and ethical basis for making value judgements". * (see footnote)

. On p. 11 he raises the problem of philosophers who, disregarding the past, restrict ethics to what has been culturally produced by humans since their evolution was completed. He says that: "with increased understanding of human evolution it is becoming possible to piece together that conversion that changed a genetically selfish animal into a cooperator such as has never been matched in the biological world. The message that is coming through these studies is that value systems, either in the form of religion or ethics, are the almost inevitable result of the way the brain evolved".

. And on page 12 he quotes Teilhard verbatim, copying a quote by Dobzhansky from "The Human Phenomenon". According to Teilhard:

"The ethical principles which hitherto we have regarded as an appendage, superimposed more or less by our own free will upon the laws of biology, are now showing themselves - not metaphorically but literally - to be a condition of survival of the human race. In other words, evolution, in rebounding refelctively upon itself, acquires morality for the purpose of its further advance" (Emphasis added, says Kieffer).

. On page 14 he raises another important question under the heading: "An evolutionary ethic is consistent with present-day theories of the origin of moral behavior". And he quotes Daniel Callahan to explain how the values of cooperative behavior emerge:

"If there is one crucial problem in the relationship between science and theology in the future, it is going to be the problem of ethics. The basic choice facing us is whether ethics is a kind of an "ex nihilo" creation by human beings simply for the sake of survival, where human beings have to develop moral codes and guidelines to enable them to survive together; or whether, indeed, if there is a nature out there, that nature finally provides some guides for the creation of guidelines, and whether there is something in which to root an ethic other than survival needs".

. On pp. 26-44 he discusses the evolution of ethics and says (28): "Ethical behavior has contributed mightily to the survival of the species". (29): "The summit of these ethics, according to Dobzhansky, is the commandments of universal love, service to others and nonresistance to evil". (29): "Paleontological evidence reveals that mutual cooperation and altruism, often going so far as self-sacrifice, have long been practiced". (30): "...ethical concepts grew over time to embrace larger and larger groups". And he draws an inverted pyramid which in ascending direction has: individual, family, tribe, region, nation, race, humanity. And on page 31 he says: "We may be in the midst of another ethical leap, a widening of the ethical circle to include all of humankind".

He then quotes many other scholars who have dealt with these questions: Haldane, Wilson, Pugh, Stent, Dawkins, Trivers, Sperry, Donald T. Campbell, Burhoe. And on pp. 40/42 he again cites extensively from Teilhard: his Noosphere and his idea of love as a means of stimulating the well-being and survival of our species.

On pages 44/45 he seems to substantiate his position when he says: "If the function of ethics is to promote human evolution, then the resolution of specific moral problems must be done in ways that maximize the survival of the human community while at the same time ensuring that the individual is not eliminated" and then goes on to refer to this duality of goals:

“1. Whatever is necessary to met the needs of human survival becomes of value.
2. Whatever is necessary to meet the psychological needs for individual human fulfillment becomes of value.”

The next chapter (pp. 49-70) is devoted to the problem of ethical uncertainty. It begins: "We began this discussion by noting that at the moment there does not exist an ethical perspective for dealing with the profusion of issues thrust upon us by the recent advances in the biological and medical sciences". He later goes on to say that justifying ethical or value judgements and answering questions about the nature of morality and what is good, and why I should lead a moral life are questions that belong to metaethics. He concludes on page 54: "The seemingly simple question, What is meant by 'the good'? has eluded moral philosophers for centuries and to this day there is no general accord as to its meaning".

In the face of this shortcoming, he turns on the same page to normative ethics with its set of principles and values that serve as guides to direct correct behavior or duty. And he says that this is the kind of ethics he will deal with in this study. And at the end of the paragraph: "Recognize, however, at this juncture that one´s normative theory cannot be entirely satisfied until metaethical questions are addressed. Metaethics validates normative principles".

He devotes the rest of the chapter to enunciating and commenting on the different ethical doctrines that justify the different principles and values. And he talks about the utilitarians, Bentham and Stuart Mill, and very extensively about Kant. And then Rawls and the more practical ones: Fletcher, Kurtz and Ramsey. And he ends the chapter with Protagoras: "Are humans the measure of all things or are there gods?” And he goes on to ask whether men can set the goal and the plan for the human. And he says at the end: "...finding a generally acceptable metaphysics on which to ground our values has eluded our species ever since the question of ultimate concern was first put".

This is how the first part ends. As said, he devotes the center of the book to genetic engineering and to specific medical issues: abortion, euthanasia ....

In the first chapter (10) of the extensive third part, he deals with an ethics that contemplates obligations towards future generations, considering the rights of present generations. The problem is summarized in a sentence on page 382:

"No previous ethics had to consider the global condition of human life and the far-off future, much less the fate of the entire species. However, we clearly now have the power to affect the lives of those yet to come...The new circumstances demand a new concept of duties and rights, new values and new social systems, embodying a new vision of the future as well as motivating the will to actualize them. If we indeed have an obligation to posterity, what is the basis of this moral imperative?

And then he says that the problem of the future is not just of ethics. That according to the Club of Rome (1972), 90% of the decisions taken in the commercial and political world are based on a time span of six to twelve months. That the average duration of governments worldwide is three years. And that evolution has not prepared us to think about a distant future either: for the vast majority life was violent, harsh and short. That futuristic concern is a luxury for those well-off and that the less favored cannot afford the future.

It says on page 385: "It has become increasingly clear that the human enterprise cannot be given a carte blanche to do as it pleases. Human actions must not only serve the essential needs of present-day existence but must but must anticipate in wise and responsible ways the needs of future generations....". And then: "It is of the utmost importance for the continued survival of our kind, therefore, to recognize and accept this obligation...".

He devotes the extensive chapter 11 (pp. 393-417) to an ethics of nature and deals with the problem of the environmental crisis, optimistic and pessimistic positions, how many people this earth can support, the relationship of humans to nature and all the issues of an environmental ethic. I quote some of the most significant ideas:

In that year of 1979 he says on p. 393: "Our greatest danger is not that humans will become extinct. This is probably quite unlikely barring some unforeseen catastrophe. The extraordinary adaptability of the human organism leads to the conclusion that at the very least some will survive somewhere. The basic fear is that cultural values which make us human may be lost". And then: "Furthermore, altruistic love and concern for others is difficult to achieve when one's own existence is in peril". He then quotes biologist Daniel Kozlovsky and concludes: "What is needed is a different base to guide our activities, with and in nature - a new philosophical and ethical system".

On pp. 395/396 he again quotes Daniel Callahan who identifies three possible positions on man's relationship with nature: 1st: Man has the right to use and manipulate nature and behaves as its lord and master. 2nd: Man, as part of nature with two variants: the religious one which sees men as caretakers and the secular one which proposes that man and nature are one and the same. And 3rd In which he agrees with Kant, although he does not say so as he probably does not know it, and in which he affirms that: "there is purpose and logic to be found in nature".

Our Kieffer, despite his optimism about the unlikelihood of human extinction, ends section 11.2. by saying: "...if ethical behavior is to be changed, then we really have no choice for survival but to reorient our perceptions" (the italics are my own as it seems that the goal is still survival and that achieving it is not certain).

In the following points he discusses our relationship with nature, both out of fear for our survival as well as for other ethical questions. And he quotes many other wise men: the theologian D.S. Jordan, the biologist Julian Huxley, the bioethicist Van Rensselaer Potter, the conservationist Aldo Leopold, the geneticist and humanist Bentley Glass. And he returns to an earlier reference to say: "The last stages of this phylogeny – to encompass races and all of humankind - are still gestating and it remains to be seen when this ethical leap forward will be made".

He then asks himself about the foundations of an environmental ethic. And he answers himself on page 400: "Humans are simultaneously biological organisms and parts of nature". And then he subscribes to and quotes a statement by Leopold: "a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community". It's the universal ethical principle applied to our species and its environment.

On page 401 he talks about the principle of reciprocity, not only with our relatives or with those who belong to our social groups, nations, or the whole of humanity present and future, but also with all living beings and non-living substances since everything is interdependent and can be essential for our existence.

And he realizes that, in the extreme, reciprocity seriously threatens the right to private property. Can one own and do what one wants with a forest, a mountain or an oil field? And increase population densities at particular points? And he says that the higher levels of the ethical pyramid apply to an ideal. Levels he proposes to maintain because: "Although we consistently fail..., at least we have the ideal to motivate our actions; at those rare times when we attain the ideal, we are privileged a transcendent experience; we encounter the mountain-top, and another dimension of our humanhood is fulfilled". It reminds me of Pope Francis' Frattelli tutti.

In the following section 11.6., he discusses the growth of consumption due to population growth and increased demand due to conspicuous consumption, Veblen's expression in the early 20th century to describe unnecessary consumption. He goes on to say that what Veblen called conspicuous consumption has now been called galloping consumerism. He stresses that: "consume more, to produce more, to consume more has become the marching orders of our generation". This leads to a degradation of the environment and of the very concept of the good life.

In the following paragraphs he addresses a new value system that takes into account that (p. 409) "... survival is not merely a problem in economics or political science". "...for an organism to survive it must encounter an environment to which it is adapted". He goes on to say that Potter proposes a new discipline he has called bioethics which: "... would attempt to relate our biological nature (...) to the formulation of policies designed to promote social good". He ends this point by saying that: "It seems likely that survival with quality is possible only if the systems of ethics are compatible with the real world, and this will require some painful reorientation in our ways of thinking and behaving. It would, indeed, be surprising if the human species could continue in an acceptable form without major revision of many ancient and diverse beliefs".

On pages 411/415 he includes two postscripts:

The first deals with Potter's idea to help a transition from philosophy to a responsible situation. In five steps which in summary would be: 1 Environmental damage becomes visible to average individuals and raises moral outrage 2. Environmental bioethics emerges 3. Moral outrage demands preventive measures 4. The former plus the factual information generates bioethical directives. And 5: those become legal sanctions.

He says there’s some reason for optimism because it looks like the scheme can be accomplished as people are ahead of politicians. He gives some examples and ends by saying:(412) "It does seems clear that each of us has the responsibility to change him/herself to abandone those actions that are inconsistent with a natural ethic acceptable to all people and to the earth".

In the second postscript he quotes historian Lynn White, who blames the environmental crisis on the Judeo-Christian tradition and its strong influence on thinking and practice in Western societies. He says that it all began with creation and the command in Genesis 1:28: "fill the earth and subdue it...". And then that as man was created in the image of God he was not part of nature. This made the exploitation of natural objects possible. He then says that this view was accused of being too simplistic and that Lewis Moncrief offered an alternative position saying that the Judeo-Christian tradition was by no means the most important cause: humans have been altering the environment since antiquity.

He concludes this point on page 415 by saying that: "The universal tendency to maximize self-interest has resulted in a complete absence of personal moral direction concerning our treatment of nature".

He devotes an extensive chapter 12 (pp. 418-453) to population and the ethical considerations of its growth and control. The book is from 1979 and says: "We know that the world population has reached over 4 billion and cannot be halted far short of 6 billion by the year 2000". He was absolutely right, as according to the internet we were 6.07 billion in 2000. In 2020 there will be just over 7.8 billion. Other figures show that there are now 851 million undernourished people in the world and 792 million without access to drinking water. And that today, 12.4.21, when I am writing these lines, 25,546 people have died of hunger. It is interesting to see: (Worldometer)

Dr. Kieffer sets out and comments on the main positions on these very important issues. The first he cites is that: "the growth of human populations is the principle threat to the future of our species". And then: "The real issue is not how many people can live on planet earth but how many people can live well". It deals with the food problem, social problems, redistribution of wealth, pollution and resource depletion. It does not talk about global warming and its effects, perhaps because the problem was not yet well known at the time.

He then goes on to discuss at length the possible means of population control and its ethical, technical and social aspects. But he says that the population problem, like so many others, presents a confused picture. And on p. 429 in discussing the ethics of population he says: "because the perceived need to reduce population growth is historically new, there exists no developed political or ethical tradition for dealing with this specific problem". And he goes on to discuss the problem for another 20 pages. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to expand on these issues.

Comments based on what has been said and read

As I said at the beginning, my main interest in reading Bioethics was to see if Dr. Kieffer had written anything about my ideas and their setting. Dr. Kieffer said a lot in his book about the setting of my ideas but, unfortunately, he did not see them. They are metaethics ideas.

On page 54 he makes a good distinction between metaethics and normative ethics. And in the absence of agreement on what is "the good" he says that he is going to use normative ethics although, as I said before, he acknowledges that: "one´s normative theory cannot be entirely satisfied until metaethical questions are addressed".

As usual, in all his work he lacks a rationale for the principles and values he uses. He seems to make up for this lack of a universal ethical principle by appealing to the classical partial ethics of virtue and duty. To these he adds the value of the survival of the species, the sense of responsibility, the utilitarian principles of welfare and evolutionary progressivism, justice to present and future generations. In other words, he uses all the good partial principles of the various ethical doctrines. He speaks very little of the moral norms of religions, possibly so as not to bias his analysis. It is not clear whether he is a believer or not.

In summary, the book includes the main ethical problems of humanity as a biological species and tries to solve them with the existing partial criteria. And it realizes that we need and do not have a metaethics that tells us what is good, that justifies value judgements and tells us why we should lead a moral life.

For my part I already knew all this, but in addition to confirming and ordering my knowledge, it has given me a clue as to why my ideas are not being seen and I think it has made me realize that they are very close to being seen and understood. I will rethink its history and at the end I will try to summarize it.

In the year 2000, in a first note I enunciated my basic idea by saying: "The aim of the human species, like that of any other species, is to survive". And I went on to say that this goal was genetically inscribed in every individual of every species. And that "the assumption of this Basic Idea will lead to modify some ethical principles by creating a "Global Ethics of Humanity" or "Ethics of Man" or "Universal Ethics" if we want to include the other species".

After thirteen years of looking, I did not see that my idea was said by anyone. And once I had "discovered" broad altruism, I decided to write down my ideas in a first book entitled "The universal ethical mandate. Ideas to contrast". At the beginning of 2015 my friend Juan Kindelán published a non-commercial edition in his Ediciones Cristiandad and we printed 50 copies. The first one I sent to Monsignor Ladaria, S.J., then Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. And then to Monsignor Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies. And a few other believers, lay and religious. I took it for granted that everyone would see my ideas, which were so obvious that they needed no demonstration. Only a few people treated me kindly but did not give an opinion on whether my ideas were true or false. I think many did not see or understand them.

In view of the lack of success, in December 2015 I published another 367-page book entitled Supervivir.Ideas para una ética universalI printed 300 copies and distributed them one by one. In this book and at the suggestion of an engineer friend I included a "demonstration" of my idea based on observing the behavior of known species. In short: All of them have tried and try to survive as a priority, then it seems that there is something that orders and obliges them, that is, they have the duty or vital imperative to try to do so. Also, the species Homo sapiens. And from this imperative and priority duty it is deduced in the case of man that: whatever is good to try to achieve this objective of survival of the species itself is good.

In this book and in a smaller 2016 book entitled Survival and altruism. A universal ethical principle, I enunciated my three ideas in various ways. In a nutshell:

1ª. Like all known species, our species Homo sapiens has the vital priority objective of survival and the imperative duty to try to survive. This vital objective and the imperative to try to achieve it are implicit in all human beings. Without prejudice to the fact that they have other transcendent aims.

2º. Broad group altruism (instinctive, reciprocal, gratuitous, onerous…) has been and is the most efficient and effective method for the survival of the species.

3º. From the first idea, a universal ethical principle can be directly deduced that says: whatever is good/better is good/best for the survival of the species.

With the individual delivery of these books to some 250 scholars, in Spanish and English, and with personal talks and writings, I did not get a positive or negative opinion on my ideas. The few who looked at them and saw them remained on the periphery. I set up a website where I "posted" the books, answered questions, and wrote notes and follow-up articles. And so far, I still can't get anyone to "see" my ideas as I see them. Or, if they do, to tell me whether they are true or false. Those who come closest continue to opine on their environment and applications and on forms and methods. But not on the substance of any of the three ideas.

I am writing all this for myself but if something readable comes out I may send it to someone who is interested. Reading Kieffer's book has made me think the following:

I think that in these five years of trying to contrast my ideas I have made a lot of progress. Ortega says that new ideas are accepted late, and only when the receiver is receptive. This also happened to me in my job as an organizer at the bank. And in the last few years many things have happened that have prepared a better environment for my ideas to be seen and accepted.

When I started out, I was questioned about the concept of species, and about what it was to survive, and who was the active subject and beneficiary, the species or the individuals, ... And then there was the huge doubt about the applications and their drawbacks and difficulties. I think that with enough interlocutors many of these objections and doubts have been solved or accepted. It can be said that the following is already scientifically and objectively accepted:

1.- All living beings, including man, have the survival of their species as their primary vital purpose. This is an empirically verifiable truth: both from known history and at any given moment. I have recently discovered that two biologists - one an atheist, the other a strong believer - say this, albeit in passing and without making a big deal out of it. See Monod and Natalia Lòpez-Moratalla.

2. It also seems clear that this objective and the duty or imperative to try to achieve it are implicit in the programming of all living beings. Here some people get into trouble because they confuse the basic mandate or duty with what each species has incorporated into its programming and its rules of behavior in order to try to achieve the objective. And as we can see, each living species is different from the others in its forms and behaviors. And also, within each species, especially the more modern ones, there are group variants and more or less freedom in the individuals. In other words, it is wrong to judge whether the vital imperative exists by the singular behaviors of groups and individuals. The mandate is proven by common and universal goals and behaviors: All species (their individuals) try to live and reproduce iteratively so that the species (their individuals) survive and continue to try to survive (the species). With different strategies and behavioral norms, which, moreover, may or may not be successful.

3. Broad altruism in its various forms is also becoming increasingly understood as the most effective means of survival. As opposed to competition and struggle, also common means used by all species. Altruism in all its forms has been key to the survival of our species. And for the development of the enormous capacities that have made us different and have made us dominate the world. Although perhaps we have overdone it by being: "technological giants and ethical children".

I think that many people have not seen that altruism is linked to the duty to survive and that one cannot be understood without the other. In other words, altruism is a means for species to survive. And social species could not survive without some form of altruism. And neither could their individuals, even if some or all of them are not always altruistic. We can say that for a social species to survive, the sum of the altruistic behaviors of its individuals and groups must be greater than the sum of the non-altruistic behaviors. During different periods of time depending on each species and the circumstances of its environment at any given time.

4.- Other aspects that make it difficult to see and judge the basic idea and altruism are the possible analogy of man with animals, the spiritual and transcendent aspects, the authorship of the mandate (God, nature, chance, nobody...), the consequences for existing theories and beliefs, the difficulty of disseminating and implementing these ideas... But
I think it is becoming easier to separate these peripheral aspects from the basic ideas, especially if one can speak objectively and try not to consider previous biases on the part of believers and atheists, nor scientism and "specialisms".

5. With all of the above, it only remains to be seen and understood that the duty that we humans have implicit in our genetic programming as living beings is a real duty, it is an obligation that is still in force and is therefore an imperative mandate, an inexcusable demand, since it is a question of trying to preserve life. In our case, human life, which is the greatest good we have as living human beings. And hence our duty to try to preserve the vital process that sustains it. And that duty or imperative is what gives meaning to our life. That is what we live for. We are each a unique and irreplaceable part of the web of life of our humanity.

And believers can continue to believe that if they try to fulfil that duty as their conscience dictates, loving altruistically as their species commands them, they will be fulfilling, at the same time, what their beliefs command them to achieve their transcendent goals.

If this duty is understood, its assumption translates into a universal rule of behavior or ethical principle that says: It is good/best what is good/best for the survival of mankind. And as an individual mandate: each man must do what is good/best for the survival of our species/humanity.

Answers to Kieffer on his metaethics questions

As I said, on pages 53/54, in point 2.2.2 entitled Metaethics and Normative Ethics, Kieffer asks six questions which he says pertain to metaethics and which have eluded moral philosophers for centuries and which to this day there is no general agreement on their meaning. I will try to answer them with my own ideas:

1st What is the meaning of the expressions "morally right" or "good"? My answer: It is right and good whatever is right and good for the survival of our species.

2nd How can ethical or value judgements be established or justified? Answer:
By observing the common and universal behavior and goals of all known species.

3rd: What is the nature of morality? Answer: Morality (I understand that it refers to where the precepts of morality come from), or moral norms, are the behaviors that men have been assuming and accumulating in their own nature as criteria for trying to survive. Each man has implicit norms of moral behavior that he inherits at birth plus those that he acquires in his relations with his environment. It is an easy answer.

If you ask what these norms are, the answer is that man has the priority tendency to survive and to coexist with the groups to which he belongs and for this he has the tendency to competition and struggle like any living being and broad altruism as a priority of human morality: with different forms and intensities according to different cultures and times. It is also very clear if you want to see it. With the doubt that bioethicists are now trying to clarify how much is inherited and how much is acquired. But that is anecdotal and marginal.

4th: What is the distinction between the moral and the non-moral? This is a good question. Somewhere I said that practically everything is moral since everything, or almost everything, that people do affects the society in which they live and thus affects the survival of the species. Then I was proved right by the so-called butterfly effect. And D. Tomás Trigo, professor of Moral Theology at the University of Navarre, who in the presentation of his "Moral of the person: the virtues", says: "...All morality is social morality, because there is no personal action, however intimate it may be, that does not have an impact on others".

Survival is often seen as a purely material, instinctive and routine objective. That it is covered by the activities of animals. And that many of the "higher" human activities are "noble" acts of the most cultivated men that have nothing to do with the elementary task of survival. For example, thinking about abstract or lofty things, creating and enjoying art, platonic love....

Everything that we men do has as its origin the objective that there should continue to be men. This is a long-term objective and the first quality needed to survive is adaptability. And this is achieved, and the species knows it, by trying to make men healthier, wiser and holier. That they become more and more human. Without prejudice to the fact that men do sporadically, or for years or centuries, things that are useless or even detrimental to survival. Out of ignorance or bad faith.

And somewhere I have said that sins are all excesses of the virtues: pride of the necessary self-appreciation, avarice of the prudent saving for bad times, lust of the necessary sexual relations, and so on. And the arts are generally the sublimation of the good vital activities: music of the sonorous speech and the rhythm of things, painting of the elementary graphic communication, abstract thinking of the mere discourse for hunting or crossing a river...

Without wishing to equate man with animals, ethologists are discovering more and more "human" behavior in more and more animals. And possibly man is so different from the animals because he is the only one who can develop virtues and values that allow him to pursue goals that we do not know scientifically but that some dreamers, such as Teilhard, have intuited. But for that he has to obey the vital imperative and survive sufficiently, increasingly using altruism/love as a means.

5th: Why should I lead a moral life? The answer to this question is also easy: Because I am programmed to do so. Because I have a mandate to try to make my species survive and therefore I must live by behaving "morally" doing what is good/best to fulfil this mandate. It is the basic mandate of natural law, whoever the lawgiver is who dictated it: Nature, God, chance, no one...

6th and last: What do we mean by "the good"? This is the key question. And the answer is also easy. Whatever is good is good in order to try to achieve the primary purpose or good as human living beings: That human life may continue. That humanity survives until we don't know when. Even if we don't know what for. And with the possibility (or certainty for believers) that we humans have an immortal soul and can access another transcendent Life.

Professor Kieffer ends the foreword to his Bioethics by saying: "I am convinced that enormous shifts in our ethical thinking will be required...". And then: " To those who will join in the search for this “new ethic”, I specially dedicate this book". I would have liked to meet Professor Kieffer and thank him for his passionate work. I dedicate this summary to him, which would certainly have been of interest to him.

As I have said repeatedly, my basic idea is that the Human species aims at its own survival and that humans, like all other living beings, have implicit in their genome, or wherever it is, the vital imperative to try to do so.

For some years now, there has been a growing awareness of the risk of extinction of our humanity, whether due to natural causes (earthquakes, toxic gases, global warming, meteorites, earthquakes, pandemics...) or man-made causes: weapons of mass destruction, pandemics, depletion of resources and habitat...

And at the same time our sense of responsibility is increasing. Almost everyone accepts that more needs to be done. And they are motivated by the risk to our lives and those of our successors, by justice, by human dignity, by the duty to care for the earth, by a sense of responsibility, by the brotherhood of humanity....

And also, the feeling of pain, sadness and sorrow for the problems suffered by many millions of human beings: hunger, wars, uprooting, lack of water and sanitation, ... is increasing.

In general, scientists work for the well-being and survival of the species. And some biologists (at least Monod and López-Moratalla that we know of) have written that all living beings have the survival of their species as their purpose.

What is new about my basic idea in this situation? It brings two things that are not yet considered or used:

1. That the propensity to care for the human species does not have to be motivated and that it is not something that has occurred to mankind. It is an inexcusable duty that was in the first living beings and that we humans, like all living beings, "inherited" when we came into the world. It is a mandate imprinted on the basis of our genetic programming.

2º- If the above is true, as seems clear, we men, singular rational beings, have the obligation to try to see it, to assume it if necessary, and to act accordingly.

Acting accordingly involves validating these ideas, reviewing the various theories they may affect and updating them. It is the task of thinkers. Each in his or her own specialty.

And those who manage the world and its affairs must review whether what we are doing is more or less good in order to try to fulfil the vital imperative: which we now know is our primary obligation. It is the task of politicians and leaders: civil and religious. On my website I give some hints on possible tasks for both.

J.C. Madrid 17.4.2021