SOLIDARITY in the Moral Imagination of Bioethics

Hastings Center Report 45 (5):31-38 (2015)
Authors
Bruce Jennings
Vanderbilt University
Abstract
How important is the concept of solidarity in our society's calculus of consent as regards the legitimacy and ethical and political support for public health, health policy, and health services? By the term “calculus of consent,” we refer to the answer that people give to rationalize and justify their obedience to laws, rules, and policies that benefit others. The calculus of consent answers questions such as, Why should I care? Why should I help? Why should I contribute to the public provision of others? Consent here does not have to be a deliberate, explicit act of informed agreement. And a calculus does not have to be a quantifiable, quasimathematical operation; more often, such a calculus takes narrative form in stories that a society tells about itself and that individuals tell about their place in it. One vital function of bioethics is to inform and shape those stories. Bioethics has the potential to offer society a keener insight into and perception of what is ethically at stake in controversies concerning health, science, and society. This insight is what we shall refer to as a “moral imagination,” by which we do not mean make-believe or fantasy but, rather, the capacity to take a critical distance from the given, to think reality otherwise. The moral imagination enables one to see connections between factors at work in history, in large social and communal structures, and in the shape of one's own life, thoughts, and feelings. Here we are especially concerned with the contribution that the concept of solidarity can make to the moral imagination of bioethics. We contend that solidarity must become more widely active and explicit in bioethics analysis and argumentation as it endeavors to shape reasons for obeying norms and rules of common benefit in an open, diverse society
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DOI 10.1002/hast.490
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Global Health Solidarity.Peter G. N. West-Oram & Alena Buyx - 2017 - Public Health Ethics 10 (2).
Hope, Dying and Solidarity.Anthony Wrigley - forthcoming - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-18.

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