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.
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)
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).
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.
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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.