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Problems of Bioethics

Series:

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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11 Ethical and theological kinds of guilt

Extract

In many cases we behave justified, no one accuses us, every moral principle is respected. But nonetheless we feel guilty for having performed in the way we have factually done. We have a bad conscience, although everyone agrees that we have respected the moral order entirely. This might especially happen in cases which have to do with life and death. In my parish, I often experience that the relatives feel guilty after a natural death of a family member because of his death. They do not feel guilty because there was a failure in treatment. They do not feel guilty because they have harmed him technically or morally. But rather they feel guilty because of sym- bolic actions which contradict the dignity of the dead person. Let me give some examples: “I was going into the supermarket while he was asleep. After coming home, I noticed that he was already dying. If I had been here he still could have been alive.” Here the feeling of guilt arises from a pure absence of the relative during the process of dying. The relative does not feel guilty because she has withdrawn an essential treatment. Perhaps she might have treated him if she has been there, but perhaps she could not. Maybe the process of dying could never be stopped. And maybe an intervention would have demanded a medical know- how the relative does not possess. The point is not that the relative has failed to do something. Often, we are ab-...

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