In the face of the moral pluralism that results from the death of God and the abandonment of a God's eye perspective in secular philosophy, bioethics arose in a context that renders it essentially incapable of giving answers to substantive moral questions, such as concerning the permissibility of abortion, human embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, etc. Indeed, it is only when bioethics understands its own limitations and those of secular moral philosophy in general can it better appreciate those tasks that (...) it can actually usefully perform in both the clinical and academic setting. It is the task of this paper to understand and reevaluate bioethics by understanding these limits. Academic bioethicists can analyze ideas, concepts, and claims necessary to understanding the moral questions raised in health care, assessing the arguments related to these issues, and provide an understanding of the different moral perspectives on bioethical issues. In the clinical setting, bioethicists can provide legal advice, serve as experts on IRBs, mediating disputes, facilitating decision-making and risk management, and clarifying normative issues. However, understanding this is only possible when one understands the history, genesis, and foundations of bioethics and its inability to provide a resolution to postmodern moral pluralism. (shrink)
This paper presents four different understandings of the family and their concomitant views of the authority of the family in pediatric medical decision making. These different views are grounded in robustly developed, and conflicting, worldviews supported by disparate basic premises about the nature of morality. The traditional worldviews are often found within religious communities that embrace foundational metaphysical premises at odds with the commitments of the liberal account of the family dominant in the secular culture of the West. These disputes (...) are substantial and ultimately irresolvable by sound rational argument because of the failure to share common foundational premises and rules of evidence. It is in light of these fundamental disagreements that there is a need to evaluate critically the claims and agenda advanced by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. (shrink)
Long-term care is controversial because it involves foundational disputes. Some are moral-economic, bearing on whether the individual, the family, or the state is primarily responsible for long-term care, as well as on how one can establish a morally and financially sustainable long-term-care policy, given the moral hazard of people over-using entitlements once established, the political hazard of media democracies promising unfundable entitlements, the demographic hazard of relatively fewer workers to support those in need of long-term care, the moral hazard to (...) responsibility of shifting accountability to third parties, and the bureaucratic hazard of moving from individual and family choice to bureaucratic oversight. These disputes are compounded by controversies regarding the nature of the family (Is it to be regarded primarily as a socio-biological category, a fundamental ontological category of social reality, or a construct resulting from the consent of the participants?), as well as its legal and moral autonomy and authority over its members. As the disputes show, there is no common understanding of respect and human dignity that will easily lead out of these disputes. The reflections on long-term care in this issue underscore the plurality of moralities defining bioethics. (shrink)
The traditional roles of Christian chaplains in aiding patients, physicians, nurses, and hospital administrators in repentance, right belief, right worship, and right conduct are challenged by the contemporary professionalization of chaplaincy guided by post-Christian norms located in a public space structured by three defining postulates: the non-divinity of Christ, robust ecumenism, and the irrelevance of God's existence. The norms of this emerging post-Christian profession of chaplaincy make interventions with patients, physicians, nurses, and hospital administrators in defense of specifically Christian bioethical (...) norms and goals unprofessional, because the chaplain is now directed as a professional to support health care services held to standards articulated within a secular morality. These changes are exemplar of the profound recasting of the dominant moral culture with wide-ranging implications for bioethics. (shrink)
A re-examination of the anonymous Commentary on the Theaetetus, henceforth abbreviated K, is overdue. It may yet prove to be the most important document we possess for plotting the course of pre-Plotinian Platonism, and is by far the largest surviving portion of a pre-Plotinian commentary on a complete work of Plato. It offers us insights into the issues of the first century B.C. which are unparalleled in other extant Middle Platonist works, either because of the subject of the work and (...) its consequent tendency to bring to mind the epistemological debates between Philo of Larissa, Antiochus of Ascalon, and Aenesidemus, or because the author, whom we may call A, is writing at a time comparatively close to those debates. (shrink)
Moral pluralism is a reality. It is grounded, in part, in the intractable pluralism of secular morality and bioethics. There is a wide gulf that separates secular bioethics from Christian bioethics. Christian bioethics, unlike secular bioethics, understand that morality is about coming into a relationship with God. Orthodox Christian bioethics, moreover, understands that the impersonal set of moral principles and goals in secular morality gives a distorted account of the moral life. Therefore, Traditional Christian bioethics is separated from bioethics by (...) a radical difference in paradigms. (shrink)
An authentic Christian bioethical account of abortion must take into consideration the conflicting epistemologies that separate Christian moral theology from secular moral philosophy. Moral epistemologies directed to the issue of abortion that fail to appreciate the orientation of morality to God will also fail adequately to appreciate the moral issues at stake. Christian accounts of the bioethics of abortion that reduce moral-theological considerations to moralphilosophical considerations will not only fail to appreciate fully the offense of abortion, but morally mislead. This (...) article locates the bioethics of abortion within the theology of the Church of the first millennium, emphasizing that abortion was prohibited, whether or not one considered the embryo or fetus to be ensouled. (shrink)
An explication of preference and equivalence with regard to the evaluation of states of affairs. The logical system developed consists of the ordinary propositional calculus together with connectives standing for the notions above. In the course of this study a number of useful distinctions and definitions can be found. The author indicates that his logic of preference may be of use in connection with utility and decision theory, but does not develop this point.--R. H. T.
The traditional Christian focus concerning dying is on repentance, not dignity. The goal of a traditional Christian death is not a pleasing, final chapter to life, but union with God: holiness. The pursuit of holiness requires putting on Christ and accepting His cross. In contrast, post-traditional Christian and secular concerns with self-determination, control, dignity, and self-esteem make physician-assisted suicide and voluntary active euthanasia plausible moral choices. Such is not the case within the context of the traditional Christian experience of God, (...) which throughout its 2000 years has sternly condemned suicide and assisted suicide. The wrongness of such actions cannot adequately be appreciated outside the experience of that Christian life. Traditional Christian appreciations of death involve an epistemology and metaphysics of values in discordance with those of secular morality. This difference in the appreciation of the meaning of dying and death, as well as in the appreciation of the moral significance of suicide, discloses a new battle in the culture wars separating traditional Christian morality from that of the surrounding society. (shrink)
Europe has taken on a new, post-Christian, if not a somewhat anti-Christian character. The tension between Western Europe's ever more secular present and its substantial Christian past lies at the heart of Western Europe's current struggle to articulate a coherent cultural and moral identity. The result is that Western European mainline churches are themselves in the midst of an identity crisis, thus compounding Western Europe's identity crisis. Christian bioethics in Europe exists against the backdrop of these profound cultural cross currents (...) that define the European condition, engender conflicts regarding the meaning of being Western European and being Christian, and bring the public significance and role of Western European bioethics, especially Western European Christian bioethics, into question. The dominant culture of the public forum is post-Christian and post-traditional, although traditional Christianity still asserts its voice. Denis Müller in his paper has clarified the choice between a traditional-fundamentalist Christian Bioethics and a revisionist, progressive Christian Bioethics. (shrink)
The author argues that to think theologically about genetic enhancement is to think prayerfully about how to locate all one's uses of medicine, recognizing that they must all be lodged in the Christian struggle to holiness. He is critical of the essays in this issue because they often appear to take on a scholastic life of their own outside of the all-consuming struggle to salvation of Christians across the millennia.