IN THE PRECEDING CHAPTERS I HAVE SURVEYED JEWISH AND Roman Catholic approaches to methodology generally, along with views on five specific issues in bioethics: euthanasia and assisted suicide, treatment decisions near the end of life, abortion, in vitro fertilization, and access to health care and rationing. This survey has disclosed important common ground between Jewish and Roman Catholic approaches to bioethics in method and substance and has sought to clarify the extent and topography of this common ground. Theologians in the two traditions share many basic values. They generally express similar understandings of God, humanity, and the world, often citing the same scriptural texts. There also are important points of divergence, including basic methodological focus; even here, however, the differences are less clear-cut than they might at first seem. Although Jewish ethics has long focused on tradition and halakhah, reason and experience have always been part of the process as well; although Catholic ethics has focused on natural law and reason, tradition has been recognized as an important source of authority. An overlapping Scripture, read in similar ways, plays a similar role in both traditions. And in recent decades, some theologians in each faith community have explored the development of moral method, often in dialogue with views from outside the faith community.
These basic similarities account for much of the common ground on particular issues. Moral deliberation in response to new bioethical challenges often is a matter of judgment, entailing practical reason to balance competing considerations and concretize the demands of general principles such as love of neighbor.1 Theologians within each tradition have come to differing judgments on the most appropriate balances and concretizations, yielding in each a spectrum of
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Publication information: Book title: Introduction to Jewish and Catholic Bioethics: A Comparative Analysis. Contributors: Aaron L. Mackler - Author. Publisher: Georgetown University Press. Place of publication: Baltimore, MD. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 212.
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