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In recent years, the case has been made for special attention to be paid to a branch of research in the field of bioethics called 'translational bioethics'. In this paper, we start by considering some of the assumptions that those advancing translational approaches to bioethics make about bioethics and compare them to the reality of bioethics as an academic field. We move on to explain how those who make this case, implicitly or explicitly, for translational bioethics go awry because of how they understand the 'gap' between bioethical inquiry and practical settings that requires bridging. We consider three interpretations of this 'translation gap' in bioethics: (i) the gap between theory and practice, (ii) the gap between the force of normative claims and practical contextual realities and (iii) the gap between relevance or applicability to practice and actual application or implementation in practice. In each case, we show how a proper understanding of the nature of the academic field of bioethics undermines how these gaps have been formulated, and how any need for talk of 'translational bioethics' is removed.

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Journal article



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bioethics, philosophical bioethics, practice, theory, translational bioethics