How to Spot a Usurper: Clinical Ethics Consultation and (True) Moral Authority

Christian Bioethics 28 (2):143-156 (2022)
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Clinical ethics consultants are not moral authorities. Standardization of CECs’ professional role does not confer upon them moral authority. Certification of particular CECs does not confer upon them moral authority. Or, so we will argue. This article offers a distinctly Orthodox Christian response to those who claim that CECs—or any other academically trained bioethicist—retain moral authority. This article proceeds in three parts. First, we discuss recent movements toward the certification of CECs in the United States, focusing primarily on proposals and programs put forth by the American Society for Humanities and Bioethics. Second, we outline two secular reasons to be concerned about the relevant trends toward certification. For one thing, certification is currently being advanced via political dominance, rather than gaining authority by reliance on rigorous philosophical argument or reason. For another, the trends operate on the assumption that there exists a secular, content-full, canonical, morality. There is no such morality. Next, we argue that Orthodox Christians should resist the current trends toward certification of CECs. Specifically, we unpack ways in which the ASBH’s certification program conflict with Orthodox claims about moral authority and the moral life more generally. We conclude that Orthodox Christians should resist the current certification trends.

Author Profiles

Kelly Kate Evans
Baylor University
Nicholas Colgrove
Wake Forest University


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