Theology's Role in Public Bioethics

Lisa Sowle Cahill

Edited by David E. Guinn

in Handbook of Bioethics and Religion

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9780195178739
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784943 | DOI:
 Theology's Role in Public Bioethics

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For at least two decades, the role of theology in public matters has been governed by what might be termed a “liberal consensus”. This consensus, shared by policymakers, theologians, philosophers, and the public, has two parts. First, that law and public policy need to be considered in terms of individual liberties and rights. Second, that the only appropriate “public” language in which to justify, qualify, and reconcile liberties and rights should be neutral, secular, and rational. The thesis of this chapter is that such a framing of the issues is outmoded. To begin with, the “secular” sphere is not neutral, since all participants inevitably come from communities which have identity. Therefore, it is appropriate to use religious narratives and language, or those of any moral tradition (which includes liberalism), as long as they are not propounded dogmatically or in a way that undermines democratic process and participatory politics.

Keywords: theology; religion; secular; bioethics; liberties; human rights

Chapter.  10259 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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