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Suffering and Bioethics$
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Ronald M. Green and Nathan J. Palpant

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926176.001.0001

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Human Suffering and the Limits of Secular Bioethics

Human Suffering and the Limits of Secular Bioethics

(p.337) 17 Human Suffering and the Limits of Secular Bioethics
Suffering and Bioethics

Mark J. Cherry

Oxford University Press

If one is honestly to face the moral challenges of human suffering, one must first come to terms with human finitude, even when confronted with the collapse of human abilities, suffering, and death. An authoritative response to such existential concerns, however, requires a binding moral standpoint from which to know truly the nature of the right, the good, and the virtuous. This chapter argues that secular bioethics possesses no such definitive moral foundation and, as a result, is unable to give an unequivocal response to human suffering. Instead, such matters are left up to individual idiosyncratic choice. Consequently, secular bioethics routinely sanctions unhindered access to nearly any medical means to satisfy individual lifestyle and death-style choices, so that individuals may avoid unwanted emotional, mental, or physical suffering. The chapter concludes that modern medicine and secular bioethics embody the potentially unconstrained human passion to control life and death.

Keywords:   finitude, secular bioethics, suffering, lifestyle, death style

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