Definition of the problem: The report supplies the national part of a European survey in which doctors that are involved in the treatment of patients in `Persistent Vegetative State' (PVS) are being interviewed. The questions concern decision-situations the doctors are frequently confronted with in the treatment of PVS-patients. The questionnaire is designed as a decisiontree in order to bring about the exact delineations that govern the decisions. Therefore the result of the survey only portrays which delineations are in fact being (...) accepted (and does not allow any conclusion concerning which norms should guide the decisions). Whether these factual delineations correspond to ethical-normative criteria that derive from guiding principles – such as human dignity – is being discussed in the part reflecting on the survey. It is crucial to an adequate interpretation of the survey results to keep in mind that the doctors were not being asked about what they actually did in the situations described; the survey was designed to bring about what the doctors' basic attitudes towards the problems are.Arguments: The reason this methodological approach to the problem was chosen is that an ethical evaluation can only take place when the action-guiding convictions of the agents concerned are known. The goal of the survey was to make a provisional orientation concerning the basic attitudes possible. Compared to other countries taking part in, the survey result in Germany confirms the hypotheses that doctors from different European countries – concerning the decisions of withdrawing treatment or withholding treatment – are guided by different basic attitudes.Conclusion: As it has become apparent that important national differences concerning the action-guided attitudes of the doctors exist, it would not be advisable to recommend that European guidelines for all countries should be set up for such cases. The decisions taken depend on the guiding ethical assumptions; they can only be decisions for the very case they were derived at. (shrink)
The backdrop for this thesis is provided by Troeltsch's far more detailed and extensive studies of the social doctrines of various Christian churches and groups. According to Troeltsch's interpretation, the reception of the Stoic concept of natural law is as crucial to Christian ethics as the reception of the concept of logos is to Christian dogmatics. Just as the concept of logos mediates between the truth of revelation and the truth of reason, so the concept of natural law mediates between (...) the moral demands of the gospel and the principles of a worldly ethos. Since there is a distinction between an absolute natural law, which is identical with the radical ideal of the Sermon on the Mount, and a relative natural law, substantially corresponding to the Ten Commandments and to political and social reality, such a mediation--which must be oriented on the relative natural law--must qualify the original radical Christian claim. Whereas the old church allowed both forms of the natural law to stand alongside each other without mediation and was therefore unable to overcome their estrangement within the surrounding social reality, the Christian Middle Ages succeeded in uniting both forms by replacing the distinction between the gospel and the world with a distinction between the natural and the supernatural, interpreting each as a level of a metaphysical whole. When this idea of a metaphysical hierarchy of reality, attached to the concept of natural law, became linked to the notion of society as a structured organism, as taught by Aristotle and Paul, the concept of natural law assumed a virtually fundamental status: it grounded both moral and social philosophy and enabled the rise of the "unified culture" characteristic of the Christian Middle Ages, from which the Reformation later departed in order to regain the radicalism of the gospel. By linking the concept of natural law to the organic interpretation of-the social, the Christian Middle Ages could also assign a central role to the church: just as the divine law is the bracket that binds together the levels of moral laws, so the church is the bracket that holds together the members of the social organism. Its interpretation as the "boundless, comprehensive, and guiding institution of salvation," together with the strong attachment of natural law to eternal and immutable principles, must, in the last consequence, lead to a "conservative, organically patriarchal natural law." Consequently, those elements that were already contained in the medieval form of the natural law but not in the Platonic interpretation of the social order, and which in its later secular form gave it its progressive, even revolutionary, power, remain repressed: the idea of the dignity of the person, the associated freedom and autonomy of individual reason, the-resulting responsibility of personal conscience, and the significance of one's vocation, which stems from the place of the individual within the whole. (shrink)
Mankind is nowadays faced with many different challenges brought about by the exploration of the molecular basis of heredity. Many entwined questions arise: is genetic knowledge relevant to the comprehension of nature in general and of man’s vision of himself in particular? Faced with the new possibilities of insight and intervention in human genom, how should we conceive nature ? Modern molecular biology has demonstrated that our genetic patrimony must not be considered throughly and completely determined; on the contrary it (...) constitutes an aray of possible dispositions, on which we have the possibility to intervene, therefore changing our destiny. The insight in man’s genom has therefore on one side made our personal and hereditary dispositions accessible and comprehensible to us ; on the other side human genetics makes it possible for everyone to change his/her personal genetic constitution or that of his/her descendants, and therefore indicates a previously unknown way of autonomous behaviour. The ethical judgement of the above mentioned possibilities on one side questions the legitimacy of the aims and on the other analyses whether a justification of the tools used for these purposes is possible. The difference between therapeutic and non-therapeutic interventions or between somatic interventions on individuals and interventions on the germinal line are to be considered part of the aim’s question, whereas the moral analysis of the means is oriented towards the unconditional respect of the autonomy of those involved and towards a manifold evaluation of benefits, drawbacks and risks. (shrink)
Se olharmos para Alberto Magno apartir de nossa época, provavelmente não perce-beremos sua importância como filósofo, poismuito do que ele realizou pode parecer comoalgo natural, que sempre foi assim. Entretanto,seus textos sobre a teologia como ciência, sobrea separação entre filosofia e teologia e sobre aética como ciência prática, por exemplo, sobrevi-vem até hoje.
Under the heading of “images of man” or “human images”, this chapter deals with those paradigms of being human which describe the goal or destiny to what a human being could or should develop realizing his or her potentials during their lifetime. Because human nature has a specific “world openness” and is characterized by a significant expressivity there is not only one “image of man” or “human image” in the history of culture, but a significant number of such “images.” Each (...) one is rich in content and normative in function. This chapter analyzes the roots of such “images of man” or “human images,” their character as “comprehensive doctrines” and various significant types that occur. (shrink)
Is the meaning of human dignity dependent on metaphysical and theological premisses? The author′s answer to this question is based on the thesis that metaphysics and theology are not primary sources of the idea of human dignity, but that they have additional relevance in understanding and promoting human dignity. For the world wide consensus that fundamental human rights have to be protected is based at a first level on the practical evidence that human life cannot be lived if (...) some basic claims are not safeguarded. This practical evidence which is implied in the self-experience of the subject acting and suffering in the first person singular has at its core the ultimate practical judgment that human life as a self-related and self-determined practice has to be considered as an end in itself. Based on this practical evidence at a second level an ethical reflexion shows that every human being as a human being has not only a value which can be replaced by other values, but an unretrievable dignity because of this form of life, i. e. with the nature of a moral agent. From this practical evidence and its ethical evaluation at a third level metaphysical conclusions can be drawn, e. g. that human beings have a nature to which the faculty of reason belongs substantially or that human beings as subjects are part of an intelligible word . The viewpoint of a faith-based theology presupposes the practical evidence with which human beings experience themselves as subjects, but gives to the recognition of the human dignity an additional critical, hermeneutical and motivational force. (shrink)
In what follows, I argue that the thinkers of the twelfth to thirteenth century rediscovered and passed on the questions of metaphysics; in what I call the second beginning of metaphysics they also developed those questions in such a way that they could be received into the thinking of the modern era in the first place. It was precisely the theological context which forced this development and lead the theologians of the Latin West, inspired by their Arabic predecessors, to redesign (...) metaphysics according to the rules of Aristotle’s logic and philosophy of science. Put differently, through the challenge of theology medieval metaphysics was forced to become what it had claimed to be from the onset: first philosophy. (shrink)