The importance of prudence within inclusive bioethics

Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (11):720-720 (2019)
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I should declare at the outset that I much enjoyed this thoughtful paper and personally agree with its overall stance. For the last 20 or more years I have been a member of various British and European bioethics committees—typically appointed to them because I am a theologian—and, within them, I have tried assiduously to adhere to public reason arguments. However, I do so, not out of a sense of moral obligation, but because I regard public reasoning to be more appropriate and inclusive on these committees than specifically religious reasoning. This is my main point of difference with this otherwise admirable paper. Although towards the end of their paper the two authors do admit to rare exceptions, it does seem that there is a deontological basis to their Public Reason Argument. They state explicitly that ‘physicians have a moral duty to avoid engaging substantive religious considerations when helping patients or surrogates reach a medical decision’. For them non-sectarian public reasoning is ‘in keeping with the spirit …



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