David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 16 (1):29-51 (1991)
This article examines the emergence of casuistical case analysis as a methodological alternative to more theory-driven approaches in bioethics research and education. Focusing on The Abuse of Casuistry by A. Jonsen and S. Toulmin, the article articulates the most characteristic features of this modernday casuistry (e.g., the priority allotted to case interpretation and analogical reasoning over abstract theory, the resemblance of casuistry to common law traditions, the ‘open texture’ of its principles, etc.) and discusses some problems with casuistry as an ‘anti-theoretical’ method. It is argued that casuistry so defined is ‘theory modest’ rather than ‘theory free’ and that ethical theory can still play a significant role in casuistical analysis; that casuistical analyses will encounter conflicting ‘deep’ interpretations of our social practices and institutions, and are therefore unlikely sources of increased social consensus on controversial bioethical questions; that its conventionalism raises questions about casuistry's ability to criticize norms embedded in the societal consensus; and that casuistry's emphasis upon analogical reasoning may tend to reinforce the individualistic nature of much bioethical writing. It is concluded that, notwithstanding these problems, casuistry represents a promising alternative to the regnant model of ‘applied ethics’ (i.e., to the ritualistic invocation of the so-called ‘principles of bioethics’). The pedagogical implications of casuistry are addressed throughout the paper and include the following recommendations: (1) use real cases, (2) make them long, richly detailed and comprehensive, (3) present complex sequences of cases, (4) stress the problem of ‘moral diagnosis’, and (5) be ever mindful of the limits of casuistical analysis. Keywords: casuistry, interpretation, methodology, pedagogy CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
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Citations of this work BETA
Pascal Borry, Paul Schotsmans & Kris Dierickx (2005). The Birth of the Empirical Turn in Bioethics. Bioethics 19 (1):49–71.
M. F. Jonas & S. J. Thornley (2011). Smoky Rooms and Fuzzy Harms: How Should the Law Respond to Harmful Parental Practices? Public Health Ethics 4 (2):129-142.
Katie Page (2012). The Four Principles: Can They Be Measured and Do They Predict Ethical Decision Making? [REVIEW] BMC Medical Ethics 13 (1):10-.
Leigh Turner (2009). Anthropological and Sociological Critiques of Bioethics. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 6 (1):83-98.
Heidi Mertes & Guido Pennings (2011). The Force of Dissimilar Analogies in Bioethics. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32 (2):117-128.
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