In Hon-Lam Li & Michael Campbell (eds.), Public Reason and Bioethics: Three Perspectives. Springer Verlag. pp. 3-57 (2021)

Hon-Lam Li
Chinese University of Hong Kong
This chapter is divided into two parts. In the first part, I explain the foundational differences between A Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism, despite the fact that Rawls maintains the Two Principles of Justice in both works. Moreover, I expound why, in view of the fact that reasonable people would subscribe to different comprehensive religious, philosophical, and moral doctrines, Rawls needs a new foundation for social stability in a constitutional liberal democracy. I explain the connection between Rawls’ ideas of overlapping consensus, political conception, and public reason. Moreover, I explain Rawls’ idea of “duty of civility” and the condition under which a controversial issue can be legitimately resolved by way of voting. Further, instead of pursuing Rawls’ idea that bioethical issues could be resolved by way of “reasonable balancing” of “political values,” I turn to T. M. Scanlon’s contractualist approach, which is congenial to Rawlsian political liberalism and can resolve moral, political, and bioethical issues. In the second part of this chapter, I try to resolve the problem of medical assistance in dying by using Thomson’s/Scanlon’s idea that permissibility is not affected by intention. I deal with the Slippery Slope Arguments, the argument from abuse, and the argument from pressure on elderly patients who might feel obligated to die. Finally, I argue that Scanlonian contractualism is preferable to utilitarianism, and that contractualism can defuse the problem from pressure which has plagued utilitarianism.
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DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-61170-5_1
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