Theoretical and practical problems with wide reflective equilibrium in bioethics

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (2):123-140 (2010)
Various theories have been put forward in an attempt to explain what makes moral judgments justifiable. One of the main theories currently advocated in bioethics is a form of coherentism known as wide reflective equilibrium. In this paper, I argue that wide reflective equilibrium is not a satisfactory approach for justifying moral beliefs and propositions. A long-standing theoretical problem for reflective equilibrium has not been adequately resolved, and, as a result, the main arguments for wide reflective equilibrium are unsuccessful. Moreover, practical problems that arise in using the method of wide reflective equilibrium undermine the idea that it is a viable approach for justifying moral judgments about cases and policies. Given that wide reflective equilibrium is the most prominent version of coherentism, these considerations call into question the coherentist approach to justification in bioethics.
Keywords Reflective equilibrium  Moral justification  Coherence  Considered moral judgments  Background theories
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11017-010-9140-2
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

94 ( #34,506 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #147,227 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.