Project Logo

Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude


What Does it Mean to be Human?

  • Teresa Iglesias*  |  One of the most fundamental questions that is increasingly facing bioethicists and society alike is the question, "What does it mean to be human?" "In what consists the act of being human?" "Is my humanity a 'bodily' humanity?" In every area of philosophical concern we are always thrown back to these basic questions . . .
    Full Text

Defining Human Dignity

  • Margaret Somerville*| Euthanasia advocates argue respect for human dignity requires that euthanasia be legalized and opponents of euthanasia argue exactly the opposite, that respect for human dignity requires it remain prohibited. In short, the concept of human dignity and what is required to respect it is at the centre of the euthanasia debate, but there is no consensus on what we mean by human dignity, its proper use, or its basis. . .
    Full Text

Preserving Humanity

  • Margaret Somerville* |  Whether humans are "special" -- sometimes referred to as human exceptionalism or uniqueness -- and, therefore, deserve "special respect" is a controversial and central question in bioethics, and how we answer it will have a major impact on many important ethical issues. . .
    Full Text

Scientific and Philosophical Expertise: An Evaluation of the Arguments on "Personhood"

  • Dianne N. Irving* |  . . .I will address some of the kinds of major scientific and philosophical arguments used to support the sudden appearance of "personhood" at different biological "marker events", indicating that such arguments are arbitrarily grounded on scientific data which is incorrect or misapplied; and that the philosophical claims of these arguments are arbitrarily grounded in systems of philosophy which are themselves very problematic, as any historian of philosophy well knows. . .
    Full Text


Bioethics and natural law: an interview with John Keown

  • Xavier Symons John Keown* Bioethics discourse is often divided into two broad categories: utilitarian perspectives and so-called deontological or Kantian approaches to ethics. An alternative viewpoint that receives far less attention is a natural law perspective on ethics and medicine. The natural law approach emphasizes interests or ends common to all members of humanity, and offers a teleological account of morality and human flourishing.

    Professor John Keown of Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute for Ethics recently co-authored a book on natural law with the late Georgetown Professor Alfonso Gómez-Lobo. The book is entitled Bioethics and the Human Goods: An Introduction to Natural Law Bioethics. The Deputy Editor of BioEdge, Xavier Symons, interviewed Professor Keown about his latest work.
    Full Text


Conscience and the History of Moral Philosophy


A Better Concept of Freedom

  • George Weigel* | . . . Isaiah Berlin . . . deserves considerable credit for identifying the perversion of liberty that was at the root of the totalitarian project, and for defending a concept of liberty-as-noninterference that, in setting legal limits to coercive state power, has deep resonances in the American political tradition. And yet, forty-four years after "Two Concepts of Liberty," one has to ask whether Berlin's analysis of the problem of freedom is truly adequate. . . .
    Full Text

Are "Values" the Same as Virtues?

  • Iain T. Benson* | When professional codes of conduct allude to 'personal values', and workplace controversies about issues of conscience are characterized as 'conflicts of values", it is past time to ask what meaning is conveyed by such terms. The author holds that values language "obscures moral discourse rather than furthers it." His short article serves as a suitable introduction to the subject.
    Full Text

What is Natural Law and
What is its Bearing on Obstetrics and Gynaecology?

  • Eamon O'Dwyer* | . . . Natural Law is rooted in history. To understand it fully and to appreciate its significance, it is necessary to trace its development from its origin in ancient Greek philosophy. . . Natural Law . . . is not just a theory of natural rights. It is the Golden Rule which "contains all that makes for the preservation of human life, and all that is opposed to its dissolution." . . .[
    Full Text

Notes toward an understanding of freedom of conscience

  • Sean Murphy* | . . .Discussion has not gone deep enough to address underlying disagreements about the nature of the human person that shape disputes about freedom of conscience. . .
    Full Text

Handling Issues of Conscience

  • J. Budziszewski* | . . .I assume, because you have asked me to examine of issues of conscience, that you agree with me that students have a conscience. Yet haven't we - - I mean the collective we, the Academy - - haven't we been earnestly telling students for several generations that they have no such thing? Freudians have said there is no conscience but only superego, behaviorists that there is no conscience but only inhibitions. Anthropologists have said there is no conscience but only mores, sociologists that there is no conscience but only socialization. Now at last come those Johnnie-come-latelies, the postmodernists, telling the students that there is no conscience but only narratives. . .
    Full Text

The fundamental right to refuse

  • Crispin Sartwell* | . . .The idea that, in assuming some function -- some career, for instance -- I resign my conscience to the institution or to the state is perhaps the single most pernicious notion in human history. . .
    Full Text


Science, the Formation of Conscience and Moral Decision Making

  • Dianne N. Irving* | The author points out that knowing correct scientific information is preliminary to moral decision making by the patient, the physician and a multitude of others. She argues that any scientific error in the beginning precludes one from making morally correct decisions in the end. The author writes from a Catholic perspective, but her approach to the subject may be adopted without difficulty by non-Catholics. The paper was written for a mixed audience of 'average citizens' and specialists in academic disciplines. The text is accessible to the non-specialist, while the extensive end notes meet the exacting requirements of academic discussion.
    Full Text

The Problem of Complicity

  • Sean Murphy* | It appears that most people are willing to grant that a health care worker who has serious moral objections to a procedure should not be compelled to perform it or assist directly with it. However, many people find it more difficult to understand why some health care workers object to even indirect forms of involvement: why they might refuse to help patients obtain a morally controversial service or procedure by referring them to a more willing colleague. . .
    Full Text

Referral: A False Compromise

  • Sean Murphy* | The notion that referral is an acceptable compromise may presume that moral culpability attaches only to direct participation in X, and not to facilitating the provision of X by someone else. This presumption contradicts important religious and moral traditions that hold that we may be morally responsible for the actions of someone else. . .
    Full Text

Rounding the Horn with the Principle of Double Effect

  • Sean Murphy* | . . . The audience finds British Captain Jack (Lucky Jack) Aubrey and the crew of his man o'war on the north coast of Brazil, hunting the French privateer Acheron. The film follows the hunt down the east coast of South America, around Cape Horn and into the Pacific. . .It is remarkable to find a principle that is sometimes mocked as ethical sleight-of-hand so vividly illustrated by acting, music and script in a popular film. . .
    Full Text


Print Friendly and PDF