Engelhardt’s Diagnosis and Prescription: Persuasive or Problematic?

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43 (6):631-649 (2018)
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Abstract

In a spirit of critical appreciation, this essay challenges several core aspects of the critique of secular morality and the defense of Orthodox Christianity offered by H. Tristram Engelhardt in After God. First, I argue that his procedurally driven approach to a binding morality based solely on a principle of permission leaves morality without any substantive definition in general terms, in ways that are both conceptually problematic and also at odds with Engelhardt’s long-standing distinction between non-malevolence and beneficence. Second, I question the accuracy or adequacy of Engelhardt’s critique of the Enlightenment project for his unwarranted privileging of a particular version of Enlightenment thinking at the expense of other Enlightenment perspectives less amenable to Engelhardt’s working generalizations. Third, I challenge the theoretical cogency of Engelhardt’s insistence on the ubiquity and intractability of moral controversies and his depiction of moral strangers and moral friends as, in effect, mutually exclusive terms. Finally, I question Engelhardt’s embrace of a divine command model of ethics as the appropriate resolution of Euthyphro’s dilemma and suggest that there may be intermediate approaches to the usual starkly drawn contrasts between divine command and naturalist accounts.

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Citations of this work

Bioethics After the Death of God.Mark J. Cherry - 2018 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43 (6):615-630.

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References found in this work

Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Natural Law and Natural Rights.John Finnis - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
Natural Law and Natural Rights.John Finnis - 1980 - Oxford University Press UK.

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