A Tribute to John Arras

Author

Steven Miles

Publish date

March 13, 2015

by Steven Miles, MD

It is hard to believe that John Arras has died. John was one of the younger creators of modern bioethics. He died at age 69. He was my teacher although I am less than five years his junior.

John was the rare spirit of teaching. Although broadly read, he used his erudition to counsel and inspire rather than to boast or intimidate. He avoided the spartan liturgy of four principles in his elegantly constructed and simply stated arguments that spoke to heart and mind. He insisted on taking on the hard stuff like access to health care and rationing and justice and the neglected corners of medicine rather than confining himself to the well trodden dilemmas of end of life intensive care.

John was a teacher first. He loved his students. He took pride in their growth and saw them (rather than his papers) as his true legacy. He was kind to all of them. He praised their strengths and pointed to their higher potential. He used a gentle wit rather than a scalpel to shape them. I benefited immeasurably from him as a scholar, as a teacher, as a person.

It was my profound good fortune to meet John as a young person and to have benefited from his contributions throughout my career.

John Arras portrait from Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (bioethics.gov)
John Arras portrait from Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (bioethics.gov)

We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Privacy Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.