Over at Practical Ethics, Charles Camosy asks a question: Can bioethics be done without theology?
Yep. It can.
Well, that was quick and simple.
But – oh, all right: I probably ought to say a bit more. Now, Camosy’s post is quite long, and that means that if I want to scrutinise it in any detail, I’d have to generate something at least as long. I’m not sure if I – or any reader – has the patience for that, so what follows is probably not going to be without the odd gap. All the same, this post has turned out to be something of a monster in its own right – so it might be worth going to make a cup of tea first if you intend to read it.
The tl;dr version is that I think that Camosy’s argument is fallacious in several places. And though I’m arguing from a position of godlessness, I think that the problems ought to be apparent to those who do have faith as well. With that caveat issued, here we go…
Camosy’s opening gambit is that “theological bioethics is in trouble”. Part of the explanation of the trouble, he claims, is that the nature of ethics in Universities – I take him to mean theology departments here – is changing, and for a couple of reasons. The first is that
as theology continues to morph into religious studies in many university departments, “social ethics” now swallows everything in its path—with almost all questions of ethics becoming questions exclusively about history, sociology and/or economics.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.