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Problems of Bioethics


Lukas Ohly

This book criticizes the suggestive implication of newer bioethics that we need a new ethical paradigm in order to handle with the innovations of medicine and biotechnology. It holds that these innovations have a suggestive character at all which is not relevant however in order to justify a paradigm shift in ethics. Especially the suggestions of reproduction, genetics, mercy killing and neuroscience reveal a misunderstanding about ethics. Moreover they show inevitably theological implications they actually like to avoid especially in secular ethics.


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1 The claim of bioethics


In December 2008, I was glad to have been invited to visit Balamand the first time in my life. There was a public conference with the title “Bioethics. The Need of Paradigm Shift?” The question was: Do we need a new kind of ethical thinking? Do we need new strategies of decision-making? Why did this question arise? It was because of the fundamental technological revolution in bio- medicine and biotechnology. There are a lot of fantasies which arise from new technological possibilities. There is the fantasy of immortality, the fantasy of creating life, the fantasy of re- producing life by robots. Most of these fantasies are science fiction. It is far from clear if they will come to reality. If they do, it will have consequences for the meaning of life, death and immortality. It will also have consequences for Christian thinking of resurrection and eternal life. What is not a fiction, is the present claim of bioethics. Bioethics claims to de- velop new kinds of ethical thinking. Although it is far from clear if many fanta- sies of biotechnology will be realized at all, bioethics suggests to define the moral frameworks of a new world, which might never come. The meanings of basic terms of our self-understanding change, in spite of the uncertainty whether the social arrangement could endure such a shift. But the main problem I see in that development is the following: Bioethics suggests that ethics is a matter which could be simply changed like technical methods....

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