Mark Coeckelbergh
University of Vienna
Although the role of imagination in moral reasoning is often neglected, recent literature, mostly of pragmatist signature, points to imagination as one of its central elements. In this article we develop some of their arguments by looking at the moral role of imagination in practice, in particular the practice of neonatal intensive care. Drawing on empirical research, we analyze a decision-making process in various stages: delivery, staff meeting, and reflection afterwards. We show how imagination aids medical practitioners demarcating moral categories, tuning their actions, and exploring long-range consequences of decisions. We argue that imagination helps to bring about at least four kinds of integration in the moral decision-making process: personal integration by creating a moral self-image in moments of reflection; social integration by aiding the conciliation of the diverging perspectives of the people involved; temporal integration by facilitating the parties to transcend the present moment and connect past, present, and future; and epistemological integration by helping to combine the various forms of knowledge and experience needed to make moral decisions. Furthermore, we argue that the role of imagination in these moral decision-processes is limited in several significant ways. Rather than being a solution itself, it is merely an aid and cannot replace the decision itself. Finally, there are also limits to the practical relevance of this theoretical reflection. In the end, it is up to care professionals as reflective practitioners to re-imagine the practice of intensive care and make the right decisions with hope and imagination.
Keywords Philosophy   Ontology   Political Philosophy   Ethics
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-006-9046-2
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,295
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Harvard University Press.
Ethics Without Principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
Moral Reasons.Jonathan Dancy - 1993 - Blackwell.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Imagining the Future of Photoacoustic Mammography.Simone van der Burg - 2009 - Science and Engineering Ethics 15 (1):97-110.
Moral Imagination, Perception, and Judgment.Mavis Biss - 2014 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (1):1-21.
Ethics and Imagination.Joy Shim & Shen-yi Liao - forthcoming - In James Harold (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethics and Art. Oxford University Press.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Ethical Issues for Neonatal Nurses.Kaye Spence - 1998 - Nursing Ethics 5 (3):206-217.


Added to PP index

Total views
62 ( #171,977 of 2,448,722 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #447,803 of 2,448,722 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes