In Elizabeth Victor & Laura K. Guidry-Grimes (eds.), Applying Nonideal Theory to Bioethics: Living and Dying in a Nonideal World. Springer. pp. 375-396 (2021)

Amanda Roth
State University of New York at Geneseo
Using a case-study involving bioethics and LGBTQ+ family-making, I demonstrate the appeal of a pragmatist ethics approach to bioethics. On the specific pragmatist view I offer, ethical progress is a matter of overcoming ethical problems. Ethical problems are here understood as conflicts that arise as we attempt to live out our values in the natural and social world and which prompt us to reflect upon and sometimes reinterpret or revise our values or practices. Pragmatism is inherently nonideal in its theoretical approach, since it holds that the relevant conflicts that prompt moral inquiry are not conflicts among abstract ideals, but practical conflicts that arise from our interaction with the world. Ideals alone, then, cannot be a proper guide to bioethical progress. After laying out this approach to moral theorizing in more detail, I take up a case study, focusing on the value of genetic relations within families and the use of reproductive technologies to allow LGBTQ+ people to produce biologically related children. I use this case to show the value of nonideal approaches to bioethics. More specifically, I argue that pragmatism—as a nonideal theory—instructs us to evaluate these issues and family-making practices by considering the situatedness of LGBTQ+ people in a heteronormative society, and the ways in which that particular context produces practical conflicts as LGBTQ+ people and families attempt to live out their values in the social world.
Keywords pragmatism  nonideal theory  lgbt  reproductive ethics  donor-conception  bioethics
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DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-72503-7_17
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