This essay considers whether palliative sedation is or is not appropriate medical care. This requires one to consider whether, in addition to the good of health, relief of suffering is also a proper end of medicine; whether unconsciousness can ever be a good for a human being; and how double-effect reasoning can help us think about difficult cases. The author concludes that palliative sedation may be proper medical care, but only in a limited range of cases.
Meilaender suggests that the development bioethics as a discipline in its own right has not been entirely benign. He argues that an increasing focus on public policy has obscured the importance of background beliefs about human nature and destiny, and that without drawing attention to those beliefs one cannot fully see what is at stake in many bioethical debates. Rather than seeking a minimalist consensus, Meilaender explores ethical problems surrounding the end and beginning of life in order to uncover the (...) "soul"--That is, some of the deeper issues within bioethics that need our attention. Abortion, the issue that so often lurks just beneath the surface of bioethical argument, is discussed in the final chapter. Throughout the book Meilaender emphasizes the "soul" of all these issues - questions about who we are and what we may become, and suggests that recapturing that soul will lead us to a new appreciation of the living body as the locus of personal presence. (shrink)
In a widely noted book, Henry Greely has suggested that “the end of sex” is on the horizon. By this he means that sexual activity for pleasure will be increasingly disconnected from the process by which children are conceived—a result of the growing availability of what he terms Easy PGD. This essay explores the possibility that this sense of an “end” of sex fails to attend adequately to another sense of “end”—namely, the telos that connects human sexual activity to the (...) birth of children. Articulating a Christian understanding of procreation, the essay notes that Easy PGD may invite us to miss the human significance of the connection between the love-giving and life-giving aspects of sexual activity. (shrink)
Central to Augustine's understanding of rightly ordered sexuality is his belief that the pleasure of the act should not be separated from its good (procreation). It is useful to observe that he reasons in a similar way about eating: that the pleasure of eating should not be separated from its good (nourishment). Inadequacies in his understanding of the purpose of food and eating may be instructive when we think about inadequacies in his understanding of sex. If there is more to (...) food than he imagines, the same may be true of sex. Correcting for such inadequacies may also help correct for the (inadvertent) way in which his understanding of the purpose of sex may seem to legitimize technologies of assisted reproduction. (shrink)
Reflecting upon some problems of the moral life, Gilbert Meilaender considers their difficulties within a vision that accentuates not only the limits, but also the promise, of the Christian story. Created by God as finite beings, we make particular attachments. Redeemed by God for a community transcending nature and history, our love always carries us beyond the special bonds of time and place. We live, therefore, with a sense of permanent tension. If this tension heightens our sense of the perplexities (...) of life, it should not free us from the obligation to probe, clarify, and resolve some of those difficulties. The author holds that theological ethics must clarify the direction for growth and development within the Christian life. He undertakes such analysis, emphasizing throughout the limits of the human condition, the importance of our nature as embodied persons, and the danger and pretension in some of our attempts to take control of and master human life. This Christian vision is developed in chapters that explore a range of moral problems, such as abortion, artificial reproduction, euthanasia, care for defective infants, provision of artificial nutrition and hydration, and marital and political community. These are throughout, however, _theological_ explorations. Taken together they illumine not only particular problems of the moral life but a vision of life—classically Christian in its conception, humane in its care for particular bonds of attachment, and modest in its recognition of moral limits on our ability to seek the good. Meilaender has developed a broad recognition both among scholars and students of ethics and among interested general readers. He has the capacity to throw fresh angles of vision on complex problems so as to help both the sophisticated and the uninitiated reader to think more penetratingly about moral questions. (shrink)
Gilbert Meilaender here offers reflections on the moral life from within the life of faith. Drawing on such diverse sources as E.B. White, Alasdair MacIntyre, Augustine and Felix Salten, the author of Bambi, Meilaender focuses on the particular shape of the Christian life as it pertains to the commitments of believers and to the way in which those commitments form moral vision.
The author suggests that Christian participation in public policy deliberations about bioethical issues may be helped by structures which do not require the search for consensus (or, in particular, the kind of ‘overlapping consensus’ favoured by Rawlsians) on policy. This argument is made, first, by a general discussion of the place of religious visions within public discourse and, second, by an examination of the structure and some of the reports of the President’s Council on Bioethics (USA).
In essays written throughout his career, Stanley Hauerwas has unfolded a Christian vision of the marriage bond and the presence of children that seeks insistently to place these seemingly natural bonds within the new family of God that is the church. I examine his understanding, aiming to appreciate the Christian vision displayed while also suggesting that his emphasis on the new thing God does in the church is sometimes allowed to absorb and thereby lose the distinctive significance of the created (...) bonds of marriage and family. (shrink)
This essay considers what it means to work within and attempt to retrieve aspects of a tradition of thought, in particular, the Christian tradition. Doing so places us in close proximity to certain conversation partners, but it does so without closing off possible enrichment from those who do not share our tradition. Perhaps the most critical issue involves freedom—that is, whether retrieving one's tradition undermines our own freedom or our recognition of God's. As an illustration of thinking within the Christian (...) tradition, the essay then considers the concept of a person, attempting to distinguish it from the more recent language of personhood. (shrink)
The Oxford Handbooks series is a major new initiative in academic publishing. Each volume offers an authoritative and up-to-date survey of original research in a particular subject area. Specially commissioned essays from leading figures in the discipline give critical examinations of the progress and direction of debates. The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics offers the most authoritative and compelling guide to the discipline. Thirty of the world's most distinguished specialists provide new essays in order to offer a survey of and (...) analysis of the subject. Ethics is first placed firmly within the Christian theological tradition, from which thought and action can never be neatly separated. Four sections then explore the sources of Christian moral knowledge (scripture, divine commands, church tradition, reason and natural law, experience); the structure of the Christian life (vocation, virtue, rules, responsibility, death); the spirit of the Christian life (faith, hope, love); and the spheres of the Christian life (government, family, economy, culture, church). The final section of the Handbook contains essays discussing and evaluating certain scholarly works that have in the past influentially offered (different) visions of how best to structure the field of theological ethics. Unlike any other book now available, the Handbook's unrivalled breadth and depth make it the definitive reference work for all students and academics who want to explore more fully essential topics in Christian ethics. (shrink)
How should we live? What kind of people should we be? What meaning is there in our day-to-day existence? What are the truly important things? We live in turbulent times. Torrents of information, fractured families, and politically correct rhetoric color our understanding of ourselves, each other, and the world. We are sorely in need of moral compasses. In his timely and provocative work, Things That Count, ethicist and theologian Gilbert Meilaender provides us with just such a guide. Whether explicating When (...) Harry Met Sally or John Updike's fiction, meditating on the works of C. S. Lewis or St. Augustine, or presenting a different look at such controversial issues as cloning and homosexuality, Meilaender provides an ethic that ignores neither our humanity nor our thirst for rectitude. (shrink)
Offers a coherent, critical account of the theological visions that Lewis develops throughout his work, providing a unified introduction to his theology and an understanding of key social and ethical themes that have made him so influential. Works discussed include The Screwtape Letters, Surprised by Joy, and The Horse and His Boy. First published in 1978, this edition contains a new preface by the author, noting recent scholarship. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR.
In this article Gilbert Meilaender responds to nine scholars whose papers analyze and interact with a variety of theological and ethical themes that emerge in his writing. Among those themes are the moral limits grounded in our embodied nature, the freedom to transcend those limits, the perfection of that nature by divine grace, the relation between political progress toward a common good and the kingdom of God, the place of religious beliefs in public discourse within a liberal democratic society, the (...) meaning and scope of our responsibility to care for human persons at the beginning and end of life, and the meaning of our creaturely longing to rest in God. (shrink)