A Bioethic of Communion: Beyond Care and the Four Principles with Regard to Reproduction

In Marta Soniewicka (ed.), The Ethics of Reproductive Genetics - Between Utility, Principles, and Virtues. Cham: Springer Verlag. pp. 49-66 (2018)
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Abstract

English-speaking research on morally right decisions in a healthcare context over the past three decades has been dominated by two major perspectives, namely, the Four Principles, of which the principle of respect for autonomy has been most salient, and the ethic of care, often presented as a rival to not only a focus on autonomy but also a reliance on principles more generally. In my contribution, I present a novel ethic applicable to bioethics, particularly as it concerns human procreation, that I argue is a promising alternative to these two approaches. According to this new moral theory, an act is right just insofar as it treats people’s capacity to commune with respect, where communing is a matter of identifying with others and exhibiting solidarity with them. This ethic is inspired by relational ideals of communion and harmony from the African philosophical tradition, but is shown to be attractive to a broad, indeed global, audience, with regard to its implications for the morality of reproduction.

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Thaddeus Metz
Cornell University (PhD)