Dan W. Brock (1937-2020)


Dan W. Brock, professor emeritus of medical ethics in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard University, has died.

Professor Brock was well known for his work in biomedical ethics, authoring over 150 articles concerning health policy, medical technology, the moral responsibilities of doctors and other healthcare professionals, the ethics of procreation, moral issues concerning genetics, justice in health contexts, and other related topics. His books include Deciding for Others: The Ethics of Surrogate Decision-Making (with Allen E. Buchanan, 1989), Life and Death: Philosophical Essays in Biomedical Ethics (1993), and From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice (with Allen E. Buchanan, Norman Daniels, and Daniel Wikler, 2000).

During his time at Harvard he held a number of positions, including director of Harvard Medical School’s Division of Medical Ethics and director of the Harvard University Program in Ethics and Health. Prior to that, Professor Brock was a member of the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, and before that, he was professor of philosophy and biomedical ethics at Brown University and director of its Center for Biomedical Ethics. He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University and his B.A., in economics, from Cornell University.

In addition to his work at universities and research centers, Professor Brock frequently lent his expertise to government institutions and non-profit organizations, including the President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine (1981-82), the Ethics Working Group of the Clinton Task Force on National Health Reform (1993), the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress, the Institute of Medicine, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, and the World Health Organization.

Professor Brock served as President of the American Association of Bioethics and was a founding Board Member of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. In 2018, he was awarded the Henry Knowles Beecher Award from The Hastings Center, where he was a longtime fellow. The award honors those who have made a “lifetime contribution to ethics and the life sciences and whose careers have been devoted to excellence in scholarship, research, and ethical inquiry.”

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