The Devil in the Details

American Journal of Bioethics 20 (12):18-20 (2020)
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McCarthy et al.’s proposal gains much of its plausibility by relying on a superficial treatment of justice, human dignity, sin, and the common good within the Christian tradition. Upon closer inspection of what these terms mean within the context of Christianity, it becomes clear that despite using the same phrases (e.g., a commitment to “protecting vulnerable populations,” the goal of “promoting justice,” etc.) contemporary secular bioethical goals are often deeply at odds with goals of Christian bioethics. So, while the authors are right that there is room for dialogue (and even agreement) concerning general moral principles, the process of specification and application of these principles will often be heavily influenced by competing ethical traditions. Such divergent influences will often frustrate cooperative ventures between secular and religious bioethical projects. Thus, when put into action, McCarthy et al.’s proposal will—at best—produce a divided kingdom; one that cannot hope to stand.

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Nicholas Colgrove
Augusta University


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