Health and Human Flourishing
Religion, Medicine, and Moral Anthropology
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: Georgetown University Press
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...This volume is the outcome of just such serious, and interdisciplinary, ethical reflection and discourse. As our faculty grappled with how best to think about the “promises and perils” of new medical discoveries, emerging biotechnologies, and unprecedented social change, we repeatedly bemoaned the absence of a rich theological anthropology for bioethics...
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Since its birth, bioethics has been concerned with questions of meaning pertaining to health, suffering, and death, and with ethical judgment on the direction undertaken by the life sciences in their advances, especially over the last decades. This book offers a singular contribution to the interplay of religion, medicine, and moral anthropology in the field of bioethics ...
PART 1 QUESTIONING AT THE BOUNDRY
1 Theological Anthropology and Bioethics
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This chapter provides a general framework for understanding the contribution of theological anthropology to bioethics. The underlying presumption is that a theological contribution, in bioethics or any other field, requires of the theologian a personal commitment to a particular faith tradition—Roman Catholic in my case—but also openness to the conditions of universal moral ...
2 Vulnerability, Agency, and Human Flourishing
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Vulnerability is an endemic feature of human life. In this respect we are not, at one level, distinctive. Like inanimate objects or artifacts, plants, and nonhuman animals, we can be worn down, broken, lost, or forgotten. Like all living things, both sentient and nonsentient—trees, bees, flowers, and elephants—we need nourishment, are challenged by disease ...
3 Pluralism, Truthfulness, and the Patience of Being
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How we understand truth cannot be disconnected from how we understand ourselves or from how we understand how we humans are to be. “How we are to be” indicates the human being as a creature with a certain promise of being that calls out to be realized in one way or other. Some ways will enable fulfillment of the promise if we are true to what we are. Some ways ...
PART 2 DIGNITY AND INTEGRITY
4 Dignity and the Human as a Natural Kind
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Dignity appears to be an important word in ethics, occurring five times in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations,1 and five times in the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.2 Ronald Dworkin has noted the fundamental moral significance of dignity, yet decried its lack of clear meaning:...
5 On Being True to Form
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This chapter focuses on the subject of integrity, considered from a Christian theological perspective and, ultimately, in relation to the concerns and methods of bioethics. Although not an arm of theological ethics, bioethics does bear some resemblance to a close cousin of theological ethics, ancient Greek philosophical ethics: bioethics, though neither eudaemonistic nor ...
6 The Integrity Conundrum
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In bioethics the conversation on integrity most commonly takes place in research ethics. We are all loath to repeat the horrors of Tuskegee, and so we design research studies with what we hope is integrity—that is to say, we aim first of all to protect the dignity and vulnerability of the persons in our studies. This we do through informed consent and through the...
PART 3 VULNERABILITY
7 Vulnerability and the Meaning of Illness: Reflections on Lived Experience
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My reflections on the vulnerability of patients and the meaning of illness have grown out of my own experience as a person living with chronic debilitating neurological disease. In 1973, at the age of twenty-nine, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Since that time I have lived with ongoing bodily disorder and increasing disability and have gained an intimate knowledge of what it means to live with chronic illness in the context of ...
8 A Meditation on Vulnerability and Power
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Hospitalized for more than four months, Mrs. Oland, who just turned seventy-two years old, has been married for many years to a gentle, caring man, Thomas Oland. Several years her senior and still in good health, Mr. Oland is looked to for making crucial decisions during those times when his wife is unable to do so. They have three adult children, two of...
9 Vulnerability within the Body of Christ: Anointing of the Sick and Theological Anthropology
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The philosophical anthropology that dominates medicine and bioethics too often reduces human identity to rationality and autonomy individualistically construed. Yet for such an anthropology, the realities of illness—a sine qua non of medicine and bioethics—stand as anomalies. Illness quickly marshals empirical evidence against its truth claims. Rather than standing as a confounding glitch, illness and healing have...
PART 4 RELATIONALITY
10 Gender and Human Relationality
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Humans are adaptive. If we accept the theory of evolution, we understand adaptation as an aspect of all forms of life, most especially of the human species. One indication of human adaptability is our ability to live anywhere on Earth, in contrast to other animals that are limited to particular environments. This adaptability in human beings has created great cultural...
11 Bioethics, Relationships, and Participation in the Common Good
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Relationality is so integral a dimension of being human that it would be impossible to define morality without it. It is thus essential to any view of the human that could successfully ground a theologically informed bioethics. In fact, a recent publication of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) begins a discussion of relationality with this statement: “Human beings are made in the image of a triune God whose very nature is to be in relationship ...
PART 5 THEOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND PRAXIS
12 Health Care and a Theological Anthropology
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Each fall I pose the same question to the new group of chaplains and pastoral caregivers in our clinical pastoral education program. “What is it that your religious tradition invites you to ‘reach into’ to inform your ethical judgments about medical interventions?” Some Catholic chaplains quickly point to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, promulgated by the...
13 Health Policy and a Theological Anthropology
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In all probability, many policymakers as well as a good number of our fellow citizens (including some bioethicists) would look askance at the juxtaposition of the terms “health policy” and “theological anthropology.” Assuming they know what a theological anthropology is, some might, at best, wonder about the relevance of such a thing to the very practical concerns of policy making. How could something so...
14 Science and a Theological Anthropology
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Like scientific investigation, theological-anthropological reflection is an ongoing activity—one that must be engaged in active reflection upon and interaction with the findings of the natural sciences. Certainly, our understanding of human anatomy and physiology, human development, biochemistry, genetics, psychology—in short, every aspect of human nature that has...
Toward a Richer Bioethics: A Conclusion
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In these words, President Bush’s council on bioethics expressed its need for a “richer bioethics” with which to confront the challenges to our humanity inherent in the human use of contemporary biotechnology.1 The council thus reminded itself, and all of us, of the pertinence for bioethics of what Ernst Cassirer rightly called “the Archimedean point, the fixed and...
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Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2006