Solidarity in contemporary bioethics – towards a new approach

Bioethics 26 (7):343-350 (2012)
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Abstract

This paper, which is based on an extensive analysis of the literature, gives a brief overview of the main ways in which solidarity has been employed in bioethical writings in the last two decades. As the vagueness of the term has been one of the main targets of critique, we propose a new approach to defining solidarity, identifying it primarily as a practice enacted at the interpersonal, communal, and contractual/legal levels. Our three-tier model of solidarity can also help to explain the way in which crises of solidarity can occur, notably when formal solidaristic arrangements continue to exist despite ‘lower tiers’ of solidarity practices at inter-personal and communal levels having ‘broken away’. We hope that this contribution to the growing debate on the potential for the value of solidarity to help tackle issues in bioethics and beyond, will stimulate further discussion involving both conceptual and empirically informed perspectives

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