Aspects of Life of Mary Warnock
But it is her no-nonsense approach to ethical dilemmas in embryology that has left the greatest mark on public policy.
Warnock recalls that ‘philosophy in Oxford was then in the high point of success’, with large student numbers and over thirty members of staff (Mary Warnock, 2009). The dominant figures were Gilbert Ryle and J. L. Austin, who encouraged meta-ethical work on the meaning and classification of language. Although A. J. Ayer had recently left for London, Warnock noted that his influence ‘seemed most difficult to shake off’.
The second and most influential inquiry dealt with the ethics of embryos and human fertilisation entitled A Question of Life: The Warnock Report on Human Fertilisation and Embryology (1984 reprinted 1985) which was published six years after the birth of the first test-tube baby. She returned to writing about issues related to the ethics of human reproduction in Making Babies: Is There a Right to Have Children? (2002).
Embryo Therapy: The Philosopher’s Role in Public Debate. In: Bromham DR, Dalton ME, Millican PJR, editors. Ethics in Reproductive Medicine. London: Springer Verlag; 1992. pp. 21–31. (p. 31).
On Warnock’s early life and education, Warnock Mary. People and Places: A Memoir. London: Duckworth; 2000. pp. 1–15.