Reproductive Technologies Confront Traditional Ethics: The Capacity of Richard A. Mccormick's Reformulated Natural Law Ethic to Meet the Challenge

Dissertation, The University of Chicago (2002)

Abstract
Given modern technology's penetration of human behavior, it is reasonable to consider what this might mean ethically in the case of emerging technologies being used in association with human reproduction. The nature and reach of these technologies are unprecedented and can legitimately be said to pose serious challenges to traditional ethical assessments of the human good. ;In addressing these challenges, Richard A. McCormick, a moral theologian and bio-ethicist, has deployed a reformulated natural law ethic that derives from formal rather than material norms and expresses itself, in particular, in terms of an evolving theological tradition, at the center of which is the whole person morally engaged in an unfolding world by means of proportionate reason. ;While McCormick acknowledges the impressive achievements of modern technology, he asserts that technological advance is more frequently than not ambiguous. Despite this, he also insists that God has committed the natural order to humans as intelligent and creative persons, thus enabling human potentialities by means of their innovative technologies. ;As McCormick views the unfolding of technology in the arena of human reproduction, he insists on focusing on future possibilities and directions in the aggregate and in the light of our overall convictions about what it means to be human. Otherwise there is the danger of identifying what is humanly and morally good with what is technologically possible. ;While this agenda goes some way to addressing the ethical challenges in emerging human reproductive technologies, it is hampered in McCormick's case by an incomplete understanding of the nature of technology and the relationship between modern science and modern technology . Adding to this limitation is the absence of an analytic method for relating various aspects of his ethical and scientific thought. ;Drawing upon the thinking of philosophers like Martin Heidegger and Jose Ortega y Gasset, theologian/scientists like Arthur Peacocke, and scientists like Jacques Monod, this study shows how a "thicker" understanding of technology and a method of assessing the moral basis of modern science from within can enrich McCormick's natural law ethic and avoid the possibility of undue theological rigidity to which it is otherwise liable
Keywords Heidegger, Martin  Natural Law  Ortega y Gasset, José  Peacocke, Arthur  Monod, Jacques  McCormick, Richard A.  Reproductive Ethics
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