The research started with a definition of the general ethical background to be applied in bioethical discussions, particularly regarding aspects of morality that have to be enforced by the community. Only those moral beliefs that can be accepted by consensus in a free discussion can be enforced. It follows that the basic principle of a well ordered society is the equality (and possible upwards extension) of the basic liberties. Therefore, whenever it is possible to respect the principle of autonomy in (...) matters of bioethics (here including questions of abortion, assisted procreation, genetics, organ transplantation and euthanasia) this must be done. On the other hand, there are some common values that can be defended in a free dialogue, values that are needed in order to guarantee stable cooperation in a political society. These values include the respect for human life, which implies the respect for human life in all its forms. This leads to the conclusion that people who are able to be part of the system of cooperation in a political society have rights which are dominant in moral considerations. In all cases where there is no conflict between these rights and the value of life as manifested in human individuals who are not able participate in social cooperation, considerations of the value of the life of the latter must be an important moral consideration. This implies that embryo experimentation should be permitted in order to develop scientific advances needed to save human life, but embryos must not be used for trivial reasons or for the cosmetic industry. (shrink)
The discussion regards moral epistemology as the research of a proper methodology in moral thinking. Coherentism is proposed as the appropriate methodology in the individual context of moral thinking (because of the fact that all the alternatives to coherentism, at least understood as a regulatory ideal, are opposed to rationality), while a qualified form of consensualism is proposed as the appropriate methodology in the context of communitarian or public justification of beliefs.
Two issues in Cowley’s book Medical Ethics, Ordinary Concepts and Ordinary Lives are discussed. The first is methodological and it concerns the relation between the personal and the impersonal perspectives. An apparent problem is represented by some uncertainties in the interpretation of their relation in Cowley’s proposal. In some cases presented by Cowley, although the agents do not give up the requirements of the personal perspective, their actions correspond to the requirements of the impersonal perspective. The question is how did (...) the agent make the decision? The other issue is that the personal perspective, as described in some cases, seems to be concerned only by reasons relevant to the subject herself. The question is whether such a perspective may be properly called moral, or it rather deserves to be qualified as prudential, egocentric or egoistic.The second issue regards organ donation, where Cowley contrasts the cultural discourse endorsed by people personally involved because of their links to the dead person, and the bioethicists’ discourse. Some empirical data seem to challenge this distinction. (shrink)
Eugenio Lecaldano offers an important contribution to the tradition of Italian liberal thought. In his book on bioethics, he deals with the subject’s most relevant topics by adopting a utilitarian perspective, which clearly demonstrates the influence of J.S. Mill’s philosophy. The indication of some significant analogies and the distinction between different moral problems are some of the most interesting and useful aspects of Lecaldano’s work.
Rawls’s theory of justice is capable of providing an important contribution to the question of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). PAS should be guaranteed as a right to make decisions in accordance with the conception of the good the individual formulates as a rational being. This defense is supported, therefore, by a Kantian premise. But it is also possible to oppose this kind of proposal by relying on differentaspects of Kant’s theory, i.e. on some variant of the famous argument against suicide based (...) on the means/end formulation of the categorical imperative. In this paper, I try to show that these attempts are not well founded, and that the Rawlsian appeal to the Kantian tradition divulges better perspectives. I also try to add considerations inspired by contextualist epistemology to the Rawlsian appeal to the burdens ofjudgment. (shrink)
Abstract In The Rational and the Social James Brown argues against the use of the method of reflective equilibrium in attempting to justify methodological norms. For, according to Brown, this would involve a circularity for that method presupposes an account of good scientific practice. In this paper it is argued that the method can be sustained without such a presupposition using either conherentism, reliabilism or defeasible foundationalism. That being so there is no circularity in applying it within normative methodology of (...) science. (shrink)
The method of reflective equilibrium implies that moral principles received from philosophical reasoning and considered moral judgments received intuitively are finally justified if they cohere with each other. This idea is combined with the proposal of rational consensus (Lehrer), which shows the way in which divergences of judgements could be made to converge. This second method is used to the end of rendering more plausible the intuitions used in reflective equilibrium, and, so, to show the appropriateness of the coherentist method (...) in ethics. (shrink)