Tag: christian ethics

Bioethics News

Pope Francis’ Appointments to Bioethics Board Suggest Progressive Turn

Four notable American ethicists have been appointed by Pope Francis to his bioethics advisory board, and are projected to potentially “temper the group’s conservative views on sexual morality and life issues,” according to the National Catholic Reporter. The group is among 45 international members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, composed of both renewed and newly added experts that will counsel the pontiff on bioethical challenges.

Pope Francis has thus far maintained the Church’s opposition to abortion, contraception, abortion and euthanasia. In 2016, he defined human life as encompassing “conception to natural death.”

The group of American ethicists includes John Haas (President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Philadelphia), Ignatius John Keown (Professor of Christian Ethics, Georgetown University, Washington), Kathleen Foley (Neurologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and Professor of Neurology, Cornell University, Ithaca), and Carl Anderson (CEO and Chairman of the Knights of Columbus, Connecticut [a Catholic-based fraternal service organization]).

Though reappointed member Anderson resolutely opposes abortion, the stances of other new board members “reflect a desire for a less combative tone on the issue,” noted the Reporter. Additionally, some members who had vocalized opposition to a Vatican conference on infertility at which certain ethicists had not endorsed Church positions were not invited to rejoin the board.

The post Pope Francis’ Appointments to Bioethics Board Suggest Progressive Turn appeared first on Global Bioethics Initiative (GBI).

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.

Bioethics News

A New Edition of Studies in Christian Ethics Is Now Available

February 22, 2017

Studies in Christian Ethics has a new article available online by subscription only.

  • “Ethics, Human Oocytes and the Teleology of the Body: An Appreciation of Gilbert Meilaender’s Work” by Paul Lauritzen

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Christian ethics and the powerless

The recent political campaign and election week have had many of us thinking about politics and government. For those of us who look at bioethics from a biblical perspective we have had to think about how our perspective on moral issues affects public policy and how we as a people govern ourselves. What do we do when no one seems to support a public policy… // Read More »

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.

Bioethics News

A New Edition of Studies in Christian Ethics is Available

August 3, 2016

Studies in Christian Ethics (Volume 29, No. 3, 2016) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Scripts for Modern Dying: The Death before Death We Have Invented, the Death before Death We Fear and Some Take Too Literally, and the Death before Death Christians Believe in” by Michael Banner

  • “Arts of Dying and the Statecraft of Killing” by Jeffrey P. Bishop

  • “The Nature of Contemporary Dying: Obsessions, Distortions, Challenges” by Allan Kellehear

  • “A New Art of Dying as a Cultural Challenge” by Carlo Leget

  • “Geographies and Accompaniment: Toward an Ecclesial Re-ordering of the Art of Dying” by M. Therese Lysaught

  • “The Strange Work of Dying” by Susan Parsons

  • “Apostles of Suicide: Theological Precedent for Christian Support of ‘Assisted Dying’” by David Albert Jones

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Four things Christians need to know about ethics #2

Understanding the problems of consequential ethics

Another very common ethical idea in our surrounding culture is that the morality of an action can be determined by its consequences. If one’s sense of morality is primarily based on feelings, but the there are situations in which feelings are unclear then one can look at the consequences of an action to determine if it is right or wrong. In moral philosophy this way of seeing ethics is represented best by utilitarianism, but for many in the culture around us the consequential ethics they use is not as well thought through as utilitarian ethical theory. It is primarily the simpler idea that one can morally justify doing something that would otherwise be wrong if the outcome is good.

This is not a way of thinking that is compatible with biblically grounded Christian ethics. We should be concerned about the consequences of our actions, but there is a clear understanding among Christian ethicists that consequential ethics can lead to many wrong moral decisions. The value and dignity of persons in the minority or otherwise on the fringes of society can be abandoned when decisions are made on the basis of the good of the majority. It does not fit with a biblical understanding of moral truth to say that we can do what is wrong to achieve a good outcome. The ends do not justify the means. Consequential arguments are commonly false rationalizations to justify ourselves for doing something we know to be wrong. King Saul tried to justify his disobedience of God’s command to kill the livestock of the Amalekites by saying that bringing the best of the animals home with him would allow him to give them to God as sacrifices.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Caring for people and animals

Last night the Taylor University Center for Ethics that I work with sponsored a Conversation on Animal Welfare and Christian Ethics that focused on the Evangelical Statement on Responsible Care for Animals which was just recently released and can be found on the Every Living Thing web site. To read the statement you can click on the “sign the statement” button which gives you the opportunity to read the statement then decide if you want to sign it.

Over the past few months I have been putting a lot of time and energy into preparing for our discussion last night and as the event approached I found myself reflecting on whether that was time well spent. As a Christian I believe that God’s first priority on this earth is with people who he made in his image and that I should put caring for human beings and helping them understand God’s love for them as a top priority. As a physician my focus has been caring for the needs of human beings. Why should I spend so much time on a discussion of how we should care for animals? With all of the human needs in this world, does how we care for animals really make that much difference?

As I have reflected I have concluded that it is right for my primary concern to be the well-being and spiritual condition of other human beings. As I grow in my own relationship with God, caring for those he has made in his image should come first for me.

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.

Bioethics News

Relgion and bioethics

Hi there,

Even writing a short column like this one is a tough job. Those who agree with you expect more gold when the lode is nearly exhausted; those who disagree with you demand minute documentation; those who are merely curious will not return if the punctuation is sloppy. There’s a deadline and it has to be posted quickly. It can make you quite dyspeptic.

Which perhaps explains a post written by the incoming associate editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Brian D. Earp. An Oxford theologian, Nigel Biggars, argues in the JME that there is a place for religion in bioethics and medicine. (See below.) Fiddlesticks, says Earp. “Some people will feel a shiver go down their spines—and not only the non-religious.”

I thought for a moment that he must have been referring to the intersection of religion and cardiology documented in The Discovery And Conquest Of Mexico, by Bernal Diaz. (A fabulous read, by the way.)

“The dismal drum of Huichilobos sounded again, accompanied by conches, horns, and trumpet-like instruments. It was a terrifying sound, and when we looked at the tall cue [temple-pyramid] from which it came we saw our comrades who had been captured in Cortés defeat being dragged up the steps to be sacrificed. …Then after they had danced the papas [Aztec priests] laid them down on their backs on some narrow stones of sacrifice and, cutting open their chests, drew out their palpitating hearts which they offered to the idols before them.”

But no, Earp was referring to Christianity, whose distinctive contribution to medicine, apparently, is to deny women life-saving abortions.

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.

Bioethics Blogs

C. S. Lewis as a moral philosopher

Tomorrow it is C.S. Lewis’s birthday. He’d have been 116. He died 51 years ago, his death pushed out of the headlines by the deaths of JFK and Aldous Huxley. He’s had far more influence than either.

He’s remembered mainly as a children’s writer (the most dogmatic atheists, terrified or disgusted by the roar of Aslan, nonetheless bring their children to stroke the lion’s mane), and as a Christian apologist. He, irony upon irony, a beer-quaffing, chain-smoking, divorcee-marrying intellectual, living and breathing high pagan culture along with his pipe-smoke, is the darling of American evangelicals. And that’s why he’s neglected by serious philosophers.1 It’s understandable. We tend to judge people by the company they keep. But in the case of Lewis it’s unfair. Evangelicals might queue up at his door, but he’d never let them in.  Apart from their membership of the species, he’d have loathed everything about them; their chauvinism, their ludicrous literalism, their self-righteousness, their belligerence, their metaphor-phobia, their elastic-waisted trousers, their historical blindness, their pant-soiling fear of scholarship, their teetotalism, their humourlessness. He had a fastidious nose for inconsistency: imagine how that nose would have twitched when it sniffed a Louisianan zealot who was keen on topping adults but outraged by abortion. In a different context (he was lambasting liberal intellectuals who say that that they can read nuances between the lines, but fail to see the huge themes rampaging through the  Christian story) he denounced those who ‘claim to see fern-seed and can’t see an elephant ten yards away in broad daylight.’)

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.

Bioethics Blogs

Can Bioethics be done without Theology? Guest Post from Charles Camosy

Guest Post: Charles Camosy, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Fordham University, New York City
E-mail: ccamosy@gmail.com Twitter: @nohiddenmagenta

The discipline of theological bioethics is in trouble.

Especially 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. Furthermore, especially in the Roman Catholic world, academic and ecclesial politics push against academics working on issues like abortion, euthanasia, health care distribution, and artificial reproductive technologies. After all, regardless of the position one takes on these issues, it is bound to run afoul of one of two orthodoxies: that of the Church or that the secular academy. Especially if not yet established in one’s academic career, it can be dangerous to be branded a heretic by one of these power brokers. Unsurprisingly, good universities are struggling even to find marginally viable candidates for excellent bioethics jobs. Most theological ethicists have decided not to write on bioethics.
But there is another reason that theological bioethics is in trouble. Today’s centers of power in academic and clinical bioethics (at least in the developed West) generally don’t take theology seriously. I recently attended the annual meeting of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and was dismayed—though, I must say, not surprised—to see that a grand total of zero papers had an explicitly theological argument. Those of us who do theological bioethics know that, in order to get a paper accepted by today’s ASBH, one is forced to hide or translate one’s theological commitments.

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.