What is the appropriate role of reason in secular clinical ethics? An argument for a compatibilist view of public reason

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 24 (2):281-290 (2021)
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This article describes and rejects three standard views of reason in secular clinical ethics. The first, instrumental reason view, affirms that reason may be used to draw conceptual distinctions, map moral geography, and identify invalid forms of argumentation, but prohibits recommendations because reason cannot justify any content-full moral or metaphysical commitments. The second, public reason view, affirms instrumental reason, and claims ethicists may make recommendations grounded in the moral and metaphysical commitments of bioethical consensus. The third, comprehensive reason view, also affirms instrumental reason, but encourages ethicists to make recommendations grounded in the moral and metaphysical commitments of their private worldviews. A compatibilist view of public reason is then defended, which holds that each standard view captures an important role for reason in different aspects of secular clinical ethics. The article ends by identifying three implications for enduring theoretical debates in clinical ethics.



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Abram Brummett
Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine

References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
Clinical Ethics: A Practical Approach to Ethical Decisions in Clinical Medicine.Albert R. Jonsen, Mark Siegler & William J. Winslade - 2002 - New York: McGraw Hill Professional. Edited by Mark Siegler & William J. Winslade.
The foundations of bioethics.H. Tristram Engelhardt - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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