The use of halakhic material in discussions of medical ethics

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 8 (3):317-328 (1983)
In this paper questions are raised about the use of Halakhic material discussions of medical ethics. Three ways in which one might use Halakhic material in such discussions are distinguishes: (a) as a source for ideas about medical ethics which can be defended independently of their origin; (b) as a basis for mandating certain forms of behaviour for members of the Jewish faith; (c) as the basis for claims about the Jewish view on disputed topics in medical ethics. The first two raise no methodical problems. The third use raises a number of theoretical and practical issues, with which the paper is concerned. Several problems stem from the fact that Halakhah distinguishes between obligations, fulfilment of which is required for all people. With rare exceptions, the obligations imposed up on the Jewish people are more stringent. The pitfall lurking the in third of the three uses is that authors using Halakhic material may correctly conclude that obligations that are supposed to fall only upon the Jewish people fall upon all people. An analysis of this problem follows, along with a plea for a responsible use of Halakhic material in the third way, so as to avoid certain real pitfalls. CiteULike Connotea What's this?
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