The advent and growth of bioethics in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s precipitated an era of public moral discourse, that is, the deliberate attempt to analyze and formulate moral argument for use in public policy. The language for rational discussion of moral matters evolved from the parent disciplines of moral philosophy and theological ethics, as well as from the idioms of a secular, pluralistic world that was searching for policy answers to difficult bioethical questions. This article explores the basis and content of the unique contributions of both theological and philosophical ethics to the development of public moral discourse.