The Way We Reason Now: Reflective Equilibrium in Bioethics

John D. Arras

in The Oxford Handbook of Bioethics

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199562411
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 The Way We Reason Now: Reflective Equilibrium in Bioethics

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This article begins with some preliminary remarks about the general features and basic varieties of reflective equilibrium (RE) in moral reflection. It then considers a couple of preliminary doubts about this method. One of these doubts claims that the most plausible interpretation of RE is so comprehensive that it risks paralyzing our thinking, while the other claims that this same version of RE is insufficiently determinate in practical contexts and will thus fail to be sufficiently action-guiding. The article then explicates the sense in which RE qualifies as a coherence theory of justification, and considers several objections to RE that flow from its reliance on the putative connection between coherence and moral justification.

Keywords: reflective equilibrium; bioethics; theory of justification; coherence; moral justification; narrow reflective equilibrium

Article.  12627 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Epistemology

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