Recognition and social justice: A Roman Catholic view of Christian bioethics of long-term care and community service

Christian Bioethics 13 (3):287-301 (2007)
Abstract
Contemporary Christian ethics encounters the challenge to communicate genuinely Christian normative orientations within the scientific debate in such a way as to render these orientations comprehensible, and to maintain or enhance their plausibility even for non-Christians. This essay, therefore, proceeds from a biblical motif, takes up certain themes from the Christian tradition (in particular the idea of social justice), and connects both with a compelling contemporary approach to ethics by secular moral philosophy, i.e. with Axel Honneth's reception of Hegel, as based on Hegel's theory of recognition. As a first step, elements of an ethics of recognition are developed on the basis of an anthropological recourse to the conditions of intersubjective encounters. These conditions are then brought to bear on the idea of social justice, as developed in the social-Catholic tradition, and as systematically explored in the Pastoral Letter of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice For All (1986). Proceeding from this basis, aspects of a Christian ethics of community service with regard to long-term care can be defined
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