Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (2):123-140 (2010)

Various theories have been put forward in an attempt to explain what makes moral judgments justifiable. One of the main theories currently advocated in bioethics is a form of coherentism known as wide reflective equilibrium. In this paper, I argue that wide reflective equilibrium is not a satisfactory approach for justifying moral beliefs and propositions. A long-standing theoretical problem for reflective equilibrium has not been adequately resolved, and, as a result, the main arguments for wide reflective equilibrium are unsuccessful. Moreover, practical problems that arise in using the method of wide reflective equilibrium undermine the idea that it is a viable approach for justifying moral judgments about cases and policies. Given that wide reflective equilibrium is the most prominent version of coherentism, these considerations call into question the coherentist approach to justification in bioethics.
Keywords Reflective equilibrium  Moral justification  Coherence  Considered moral judgments  Background theories
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DOI 10.1007/s11017-010-9140-2
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References found in this work BETA

Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Philosophy of Natural Science.Carl Gustav Hempel - 1966 - Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall.

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Citations of this work BETA

Reflective Equilibrium.Daniels Norman - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Wide Reflective Equilibrium as a Method of Justification in Bioethics.Peter Nichols - 2012 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 33 (5):325-341.

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