Journal of Religious Ethics 31 (3):363 - 398 (2003)

Recent years have witnessed a concern among theological bioethicists that secular debate has grown increasingly "thin," and that "thick" religious traditions and their spokespersons have been correspondingly excluded. This essay disputes that analysis. First, religious and theological voices compete for public attention and effectiveness with the equally "thick" cultural traditions of modern science and market capitalism. The distinctive contribution of religion should be to emphasize social justice in access to the benefits of health care, challenging the for-profit global marketing of research and biotechnology to wealthy consumers. Second, religion and theology have been and are still socially effective in sponsoring activism for practical change, both locally and globally. This claim will be supported with specific examples; with familiar concepts like subsidiarity and "mid- dle axioms"; and with recent analyses of "participatory democracy" and of emerging, decentralized forms of global governance
Keywords Catholic social teaching  biotechnology  participatory democracy  genetics and ethics  Genomics  AIDS drugs  theological bioethics  subsidiarity  bioethics  middle axioms
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DOI 10.1111/1467-9795.00144
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