Since no fetus is a person, no fetus has the same claim to life as a person. Now it must be admitted that these arguments apply to the newborn baby as much as to the fetus. A week-old baby is not a rational and self-conscious being; and there are many nonhuman animals whose rationality, self-consciousness, awareness, capacity to feel, and so on, exceed that of a human baby a week, a month, or even a year old. If the fetus does not have the same claim to life as a person, it appears that the newborn baby does not either, and the life of a newborn baby is of less value that the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.
In thinking about this matter we should put aside feelings based on the small, helpless and sometimes cute appearance of human infants. To think that the lives of infants are of special value because infants are small and cute is on a par with thinking that a baby seal, with its soft white fur coat and large round eyes deserves greater protection than a whale which lacks these attributes. Nor can the helplessness or the innocence of the infant homo sapiens be a ground for preferring it to the equally helpless and innocent fetal homo sapiens.
But if it is true that a person is defined only in terms of the actual exercising of rational attributes and sentience, then the following list of human beings are also not human persons, and therefore not due the same ethical and legal rights and protections as persons: the mentally ill, mentally retarded, patients with Alzheimers or Parkinsons disease, the comatose, alcoholics, drug addicts, the frail elderly, paraplegics and all other disabled human beings, patients with nerve damage or disease, etc.
Frey 15 correctly pushes Singers logic to its inevitable conclusion: the mentally ill, etc. This is ethical even morally required for the greater good. Similarly, Norman Fost defines cognitively impaired human beings as brain dead. Singer, who also enthusiastically promotes eugenics, uses all three bioethics principles at will, depending on which one gets him where he wants to go. Thus adroitly he appeals to our autonomy e.
However, if the parents wont do this on their own accord if it is for the greater good, then the government has the duty to force them to do it, particularly if the child is defective! So much for rights; in fact, Singer does not even believe in rights at all! Hare is just as articulate when he discusses the role of the government in such issues.
For Hare, the maximum duty that is to be imposed by the government is to do the best impartially for all the possible people there might be by having an optimal family planning or population policy, which means necessarily excluding some possible people. Indeed, he argues, the best policy will be the one which produces that set of people, of all possible sets of people which will have in sum the best life, i.
No wonder Singer has been run out of Germany, Austria, and France, and is picketed just about every place he lectures. I worry how Singer will define human values at his new Princeton post will it include the values of only some human beings and not others? Isnt this establishing a category of sub-human human beings? Havent we been there before? At any rate this explains in essence what bioethics is, what its ethical principles are, and why it comes to the conclusions it does in these medical ethics issues. Given that secular bioethics comes to so many conclusions opposite from those of Roman Catholic medical ethics, I would suggest that we reconsider using the term bioethics to refer to Roman Catholic medical ethics.
One is definitely not the other. By contrast, the Church bases its ethical decisions on the moral law and the moral law itself is composed of two basic laws the natural law, or what we can know is right or wrong through the aid of reason alone, and Divine Law as interpreted not made up by the Magisterium. The natural law does not mean the laws of Nature or the laws of the Cosmos as many New Age gnostic versions of natural law advance, nor does it refer to the laws of society, but is grounded instead on the objective and objectively knowable nature of human beings.
It is not something made up. Because it is based on our common humanity, natural law transends different cultures, times, ethnic backgrounds, etc. Here the common good is not defined as the greatest good for the greatest number of people, but rather as those goods which all human beings, simply as human beings, have in common e. Maritain captures the stark difference between these two concepts of the common good:. The end of society is the good of the community, of the social body. But if the good of the social body is not understood to be a common good of human persons, just as the social body itself is a whole of human person, this conception also would lead to other errors of a totalitarian type.
The common good of the city is neither the mere collection of private goods, nor the proper good of a whole which It is the good human life of the multitude, of a multitude of persons; it is their communion in good living. It is therefore common to both the whole and the parts into which it flows back and which, in turn, must benefit from it.
Global Bioethics Bibliography | The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity
It presupposes the persons and flows back upon them, and, in this sense, is achieved in them. It is a fundamental thesis of Thomism that the person as such is a whole. The concept of part is opposed to that of person. To say, then, that society is a whole composed of persons is to say that society is a whole composed of wholes. On the contrary, the person, as person, requires to be treated as a whole in society. As human beings we are always persons. Personhood is coextensive with human nature. By virtue of possessing intellect and will, we are beings of a rational nature, or rational animals and therefore by definition we are also persons simply by possessing this human nature 19 whether we happen to be exercising it or not.
Nor is person the same as the common understanding of personality. It is because we are persons who knowingly and willingly choose to perform certain actions that those actions are called moral or immoral. Since our human natures always strive toward our human good or perfection our end we know empirically that those actions are morally right which lead us to our natural end, and those actions are morally wrong which lead us to harm instead, or go against the good of our human nature.
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For example, taking crack cocaine is wrong because it harms us, hurts us, prevents us from reaching our human ends or goods not because God said so. A human act, then, derives its moral goodness from its conformity with human nature. And human nature cannot be changed and still remain human. The first ethical principle of the natural law, from which several other principles are drawn, is familiar to us all: Do good and avoid evil. Here the common goods must flow back upon the backs of each and every member of that society, and the institutions are there to ensure that; 22 and, 3 the ultimate norm the Divine Nature itself, the ultimate measure of right and wrong, and of goodness.
Of course, the Divine Nature is not the subject matter of natural law philosophical ethics, but of theology which I will address in a moment. In applying these general norms to concrete situations we decide what particular actions are right or wrong based on three not one conditions: the kind of action, the intention for doing the action; and the circumstances under which the action is done.
All three conditions must be met for an action to be ethical; and although the intention and the circumstances are mostly determinative, there are some not many, but some kinds of actions that are absolutely morally right or wrong. For example, kinds of actions such as using human beings in research with the intention of helping to cure diseases is not inherently wrong, in fact it is laudable, as long as certain circumstances prevail, e.
However, this does not mean that we can volunteer to mutilate or otherwise seriously harm ourselves. Nor does it mean that even early human embryos, who are scientifically human beings and therefore human persons, may be destroyed in order to help others in need. Evil may not be done that good may come of it. Natural law theory may seem at first a bit complicated, but then life is complicated, isnt it? So shouldnt the theory reflect this reality?
All in all, this is a very objective, realistic, interrelated, rich ethical theory grounded on our very natures as human, and known deep in the heart of every human being. You might ask though, if the natural law is naturally known, why is it that so many people dont seem to know it, act against it, even deny it? This is a good question, and does indeed point to the limits of using just the natural law as a moral guide in the 21st century. Many people have lost their sense of the natural law within them by habitually acting against their true good, by seeking only things that feel good, or by succumbing to the myriad of temptations constantly surrounding us that seem good.
Can ethics, then, be built on man alone? If a human act derives its moral goodness from its conformity with human nature, from where does human nature get its goodness? Arthur L. Bioethics: The Basics. Alastair V. Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics. Ruth Chadwick. Global Bioethics and Human Rights.
Wanda Teays. Critical Perspectives in Public Health. Judith Green. Public Health Ethics. Angus Dawson. Medical Anthropology at the Intersections. Emily A. Science and Citizens. Melissa Leach. Laura Westra. Key Concepts in Medical Sociology.
Books with a similar title
Dr Jonathan Gabe. Observing Bioethics. Renee C. Whither the Child? Eric P. The Paradigm of International Social Development. Murli Desai. Race to the Finish. Jenny Reardon. Citizenship in Nordic Welfare States. Governmentality, Biopower, and Everyday Life. Majia Holmer Nadesan. Race Decoded. Catherine Bliss. Education in the Age of Biocapitalism. Good Science. Charis Thompson. Health and Human Rights in a Changing World. Michael Grodin. Routledge Handbook of Genomics, Health and Society. Sahra Gibbon. Robert D. The Challenge for Africa. Wangari Maathai.
Geopolitics: A Very Short Introduction. Klaus Dodds. What's the Use of Race? Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference. Ian Whitmarsh. From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia. Jeffery R. Lively Capital. Kaushik Sunder Rajan. The Global Food Economy. Tony Weis. An Introduction to Global Health Ethics. Andrew D. Autonomy, Consent and the Law. Sheila A. Fast Fashion. Andrew Brooks. Gender Equity in Health. Across secular and religious worldviews, the subject matter of bioethical variability and disagreement—about procreation and the beginning of life, illness and suffering, death and dying—are of deep significance.
So we are rousted from our armchairs to address these concerns, motivated perhaps by a desire to preserve that which is inviolable or sacred to us, or avoid complicity with evil, or enlighten ourselves or others so we or they might act differently, or help others.
We may share concerns about how to characterize and respond to variability, and our motivations to address these concerns may overlap, but harmony ends here. Our characterizations and prescriptions vary. We disagree about the content of the inviolable, the sacred, complicity, evil, enlightenment, and helping. Scholarly debate about the possibility of a global bioethics replicates the disharmony that prompts it. The first two challenges, as I have framed them, question the theoretical and practical possibilities of a global bioethics given divergence in policies even among nations with strong historical ties and cultural commonalities and given the daunting practical hurdles to articulating and applying bioethical guidelines even when convergence among biomedical professionals seems theoretically possible.
The essay by Levine concretizes the ways in which national bioethical policies develop and diverge and the implications of divergent policies for ART practices and the lives of individuals. The essay by Sexson et al. Medicine, law, professional guidelines, and local practices are intertwined in ways that challenge our practical capacity to untangle. The fact of divergence in national policies does not require us to rule out the theoretical possibility of a global bioethics or to conclude that ethical judgments are only subjective or, even if they are objective, that they are always relative to culture.
For example, if the development of ethical theory is akin to the development of scientific theory, we might conclude that variation across time and place will eventually yield to convergence on one theoretical approach that best displays consistency with universal moral norms and judgments, internal coherence, fruitfulness in yielding solutions to ethical problems, and so on.
And while the practical challenges of articulating and applying ethical guidelines may be daunting, so are the practical challenges of applying scientific theory to yield new scientific knowledge and technologies. In the same way, we might yet succeed in advancing our capacity to apply a global bioethics to address bioethical issues. Still, even if the possibility of a global ethics can survive the fact of global pluralism, it must account for it and instruct us how to address it.
Now consider the third and fourth challenges: Could a theoretical global bioethics extend across the developed and developing worlds to provide practical guidance in contexts so different in resources and culture—and could it transcend the ancestry of its authors to do so? The study by Griggins et al.
The account of the design and execution of bioethics training workshops in Uganda suggests that well-informed, culturally sensitive, mutually respectful engagement to provide bioethics training for health care providers in a resource-poor nation may well yield what all participants view as success from within their cultural perspectives. But this seems to be different from devising and applying a theoretical global bioethics to be developed and then deployed across cultures. On the other hand, perhaps the success of this collaborative effort demonstrates how a theoretical global bioethics might be built: brick-by-brick, by a series of local engagements whose cumulative effects yield the contours of a universal global bioethics over time.
Whereas the burgeoning scientific and technological enterprise that gives rise to many bioethical issues flows with ease across geopolitical boundaries, with little lost in translation, the bioethical enterprise is far less fluid. Perhaps there is a theoretical global bioethics that can escape its parochial origins and succeed in supplying action guidance around the globe. If so, its nature and relationship to the plural bioethics practiced around the globe will require explanation. Advocates of systematic theory may have aspirations of decisively settling applied questions, but they are no better positioned to do so than pluralistic accounts.
Proponents of the same type of general theory commonly disagree about its commitments, how to apply it, and how to address specific issues…. The general norms and schemes of justification found in philosophical ethical theories are invariably more contestable than the norms in the common morality. We cannot reasonably expect that an inherently contestable moral theory will be better for practical decision making and policy development than the morality that serves as our common heritage Beauchamp and Childress , pp.
Particular moralities add specific, action-guiding content to the norms of the common morality Beauchamp and Childress , p. Returning to the first two challenges that I identify and discuss above, how might a common morality approach meet them? It might well accept that nations will differ in their bioethical policies regarding ART and that professional groups will find themselves divided by variable practice guidelines regarding management of the neonate on the edge of viability due to cultural differences.
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The universal common morality might call for standardization, though, if some of the policies or practices were not grounded in the four principles, or their specifications displayed less coherence than others, or they did not provide good reasons for preferring one moral norm, such as autonomy, over another, such as beneficence in particular cases. With respect to the third challenge, the common morality claims universality that would extend across resource and cultural divides.
In particular cases affecting resource-poor nations, however, there might be reasons, in balancing principles, to favor justice over autonomy, for example. And the approach would respond to the fourth challenge by asserting its cultural transcendence in virtue of its grounding in moral norms observable across cultures, even if specified differently.
To the extent cultural differences yield particular moralities that vary, the approach can accommodate these, assuming that they draw on the common morality and abide by the coherence constraints. Critiques of the common morality approach include the complaint that it is not plausible theoretically or practically. The principles and their application are contested too deeply without prospect of resolution and, consequently, they cannot hope to provide meaningful action guidance Turner ; Emanuel Others develop and extend the critique to the entire range of ethical theories that aspire to universalism and call for a different approach to addressing the fact of pluralism.
Tristram Engelhardt, Jr. The disagreements are not limited to particular sets of issues nor are they transient; they are persistent and anchored in diverse and inconsistent worldviews Engelhardt a , p. And there is no imminent prospect that we will persuade others to change their views to our own because we disagree not only about the content of our beliefs but about what might constitute a persuasive argument for changing our beliefs; our premises and rules of evidence differ Engelhardt a , p.
But, they disagree about how these concerns are ordered and expressed and about the circumstances under which it would be wrong to kill and lie Engelhardt b , pp. While these facts do not support conclusions of relativism or subjectivity, Engelhardt concludes, they do support a revised approach to global bioethics, one that looks to limit the imposition of the views of a majority on those who disagree and that establishes a procedural approach to enabling peaceful coexistence in the face of persistent, intractable disagreement Engelhardt a , pp.
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How might this approach meet the four challenges to a global bioethics recited above? So, on this approach, the market-based policies of the U. And practice guidelines might allow for variation based on the beliefs of communities of parents and physicians as to the appropriate response to management of the newborn on the edge of viability.
The terms of engagement across the resource and cultural divide of global communities, as with local communities, would be those terms agreed upon by participants. Yet another critique questions whether any of the above approaches can overcome the deep problem of pluralism.
David Solomon surveys the pervasiveness of local and global disagreement. Contemporary applied ethics, he argues, has not demonstrated the capacity to resolve bioethical disputes at home, let alone abroad Solomon , pp. He proposes that we reconceive the task of moral philosophy along the lines recommended by Alasdair MacIntyre: participants should speak from within their moral traditions without aspiring to transcend them. This, Solomon concludes, might allow for more meaningful communication, an advance over our current circumstances Solomon , pp.
But what would be the political terms of engagement from within traditions? Solomon questions whether, for example, we could forbear from efforts to restrict certain practices of other communities that we find abhorrent from within our own. And, he notes, the points of disagreement across plural worldviews include not only the content of our bioethical beliefs, but also the terms of our engagement about them Solomon , pp.
So, scholarly pursuit of the possibility of a global bioethics replicates the pluralism and disagreement that motivate the effort. Might we proceed experimentally, under terms of engagement grounded in our shared problem-solving capacity, speaking to one another from within our traditions, seeking understanding of and incremental resolutions to problems that arise at the intersection of our conflicting worldviews and advances in science and technology? I have addressed elsewhere the challenges of local pluralism with respect to a particularly challenging set of bioethical issues that stimulate protracted, acrimonious, and unproductive debate, often accompanied by policy gridlock.
Examples include whether human embryonic stem cell research should be permitted, promoted, or prohibited and the circumstances under which life-support technologies should be withdrawn. Emerging problems include issues surrounding the application of neuroimagining technologies to determine truthfulness, the application of genetic technologies to reveal or predict capacities or behavior, the creation of human-nonhuman chimeras, and the application of transgenic techniques to engineer human beings Stoller and Wolpe ; Robinson and Berry ; Karpowicz et al.
They are 1 novel, 2 complex, 3 ethically fraught, 4 divisive, and 5 unavoidably of public concern Berry First, they are novel in that we have not encountered their like before nor arrived at a broadly shared social understanding of them or stable policy resolutions for them. Second, they are complex.
A Small Bioethical World?
They are scientifically and technically complex because they concern the most complex of scientific subjects, life and interventions in life. They are psychologically complex because they implicate our self-understanding as psychological individuals—beings with beliefs and desires who exercise free will or are ensouled or have moral agency. And they are socially complex because they implicate our self-understanding as social beings, members of families, ethnicities, religions, disability or difference groups, a species.
Third, they are ethically fraught because they concern profound human experiences—procreation and the beginning of life, illness and suffering, death and dying. Fourth, they are unavoidably public because these ethically fraught experiences are typically matters of policy concern—although the dividing line between the private and public is contested across worldviews.