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)
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.
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)
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)
Flesh of My Flesh is a collection of articles by today's most respected scientists, philosophers, bioethicists, theologians, and law professors about whether we should allow human cloning. It includes historical pieces to provide background for the current debate. Religious, philosophical, and legal points of view are all represented.
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)
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)
In a time of intensified interest in an "ethic of virtue," Josef Pieper stands out as one who has pondered and written about the virtues for many years. This paper explores some aspects of Pieper's thought about the virtues and focuses especially on four problems: (1) the question of the unity of the virtues; (2) the relation between natural and theological virtues; (3) the dangers for Christian ethics of picturing virtue as habitual; and (4) the question whether virtue needs any (...) reward beyond virtue itself. (shrink)
The text in which the original JRE editors announced the mission of their newly launched scholarly journal is susceptible to different readings. While Ronald Green has interpreted it as an intention to "effect" a "movement from Christian ethics to religious ethics," the author expresses doubt that any such general framework of "religious ethics" can be discerned in or imposed on distinctive religious traditions. He suggests that the problem of "parochialism and Western bias" is best addressed not through the imperialism of (...) the generic but through sustained attention to the distinctive and particular in all its variations. (shrink)
Meilaender, Gilbert The concept and meaning of transhumanists, or people who look forward to a world in which aging has been overcome and our physical and intellectual powers have been enhanced is discussed. The excerpts from the book Birth and Breeding: Chapter 3, from 'Neither Beast nor God: the dignity of the human person' are highlighted.
It is almost commonplace to suggest that what is morally right for one person to do must also be right for anyone else similarly situated. The author suggests that this "universalization requirement" applies to only a limited sphere of the moral life, chiefly to duties of perfect obligation. Extending the requirement beyond this sphere fails to leave room for human freedom in vocation or for a clear recognition of human finitude.
James Wetzel offers a philosophical reformulation of the doctrine of original sin. In this response I explore the subtleties of his account and question whether his reformulation has not lost something-crucial the connection of original sin and God's grace enacted in Jesus.
This paper explores Paul Ramsey's thought on the question of how properly to care for the sick and dying. Ramsey's views were carefully articulated in "The Patient as Person" and, eight years later, "Ethics at the Edges of Life". Those two treatments are the centerpiece of analysis here, an analysis that argues for essential continuity in Ramsey's view, even though issues are sharpened and explored in new ways in the later work. The theological vision underlying Ramsey's thought on this topic (...) is also examined and explored. (shrink)