Justifying Positive Appeals to Conscience: The Debate We Can’t Avoid

American Journal of Bioethics 21 (8):79-81 (2021)
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Protecting claims of conscience can function to fairly balance burdens among relevant parties without first having to resolve an underlying and intractable moral disagreement. Recently, a number of theorists have argued that the relevant criteria for protecting negative appeals to conscience in health care can (suitably modified) be equally well-satisfied in cases of positive appeals. I argue that, when it comes to certain practices, the justification of positive appeals to conscience does in fact depend upon contested claims in the debate over the moral permissibility of those practices. This fact threatens to undermine one of the central functions of protecting appeals to conscience: that we can agree to disagree.



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Daniel J. Miller
West Virginia University

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Why Abortion Is Immoral.Don Marquis - 1989 - Journal of Philosophy 86 (4):183-202.
When should conscientious objection be accepted.Morten Magelssen - 2012 - Journal of Medical Ethics 38 (1):18-21.

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