The Sanctity / Quality of Life and the Ethics of Respect for Persons

Croatian Journal of Philosophy 2 (1):37-54 (2002)
Abstract
It is often argued that scientific developments in the area of biomedicine call for new ethical paradigms. Given the inadequacies of the traditional “sanctity-of-life ethics” (SLE), many have argued for a quality-of-life ethics (QLE), based on a non-speciesistic theory ofthe value of life. In this paper, I claim that QLE cannot account for the normativity of moral judgments, which can be explained only within the context of a theory of practical rationality: the peculiarity of moral normativity calls for an ethics based on respect for rational creatures. I then go on to argue that the ethics of respect for persons (ERP) is not equivalent to SLE; that it can ground the moral protection of human “marginal cases”; that it does not rely on a scientifically implausible notion of human nature; and that it is not vulnerable to the charge of speciesism. Lastly, I suggest that ERP is a strictly philosophical interpretation of the Judeo-Christian moral tradition, and that is a better interpretation than SLE. If these assertions are correct, then the necessity of a new moral paradigm is seriously undermined
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