, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 127-136

Theological discourse and the postmodern condition: The case of bioethics

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Abstract

Bioethic reflects — like many other disciplines — the cultural fragmentation and the complexity of what has come to be known as the postmodern condition. The case of bioethics is particularly acute because of its epistemological indeterminacy and the moral pluralism characterizing post liberal societies. A provisional solution to this situation is the retrieval of a neo-Kantian version of ethical formalism in which concern for a consensus on rules replaces universal dialogue on moral content. The article analyzes the possible consequences of this solution with reference to theological ethics. In particular, the reduction of ethical rationality to a function of political regulation on the one hand, and the implicit legitimization of ethical relativism on the other, push any theological contribution to bioethics to the margins. The central methodological issue for the articulation of theological discourse in bioethics is how to avoid the pitfall of privatism while creating the conditions for ethical dialogue across different traditions.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.