Changing Nature's Course: The Ethical Challenge of Biotechnology

By Gerhold K. Becker; James P. Buchanan | Go to book overview

The fact that the universal claim of human rights cannot be explained by their historical European genesis does not necessarily lead to their relativization, but it could be a chance to acknowledge that absolute dimension of humankind, which is manifest in the terms of human dignity'. 13

For the transposition of this 'anthropology of human dignity' into the principles of a Judeo-Christian bioethics, it would be necessary to trace human life from its beginnings in the womb, to its birth, development, and education towards a free and responsible individual, with sexuality and matrimony, with illnesses and sorrows and finally to death. Since we are talking about bio-ethics as a philosophical inquiry, penetration and evaluation of all these passive experiences and fates, but also of active deeds and life-plans, we cannot expect general or pat solutions. Instead we must indeed discuss all relevant aspects of the respective actions and cases—medical, economic, political, and so on—but always with respect to an ethical-philosophical aspect which is not just one among others, but the right ordering and interrelation of the other aspects. It is obvious that, when the discussion about human existence focuses primarily on its biological nature, where it is exposed to illness, suffering and death, a particularly sensitive consideration of those related to and those treating the afflicted is required. Still, the dignity of the 'object' must have absolute priority, be it unborn children or the handicapped, be it ill or dying persons. This also means that the other sciences, most of all biology, should orientate themselves toward the classical self-understanding of medicine as aiming at the 'well-being of the human.' The opposite option, to understand a doctor primarily as a researcher of the 'object human being', leads directly into inhumanity.

(Professor Reinhard Löw died on 25 August 1994 at the age of 45. R.I.P.)


Notes
1.
R. Spaemann: "Tierschutz und Menschenwiirde", in: U. Händel, ed., Tierschutz ( Frankfurt: Fischer Verlag, 1984) 71-81.
2.
R. Löw: "Die philosophische Begründung des Naturschutzes", Scheidewege 18( 1988/9): 149-167, and R. Löw: "Warum Naturschutz?" ( 1988) 156 Kirche und Gesellschaft3-16.
3.
R. Spaemann/ R. Löw, "Die Frage 'Wozu?'. Geschichte und Wiederentdeckung des teleologischen Denkens" (München: Kösel, 1991) 239-299, and R. Löw: "Kosmologie und Anthropologie", Scheidewege 15( 1985): 306-321.
4.
R. Dawkins: Das egoistische Gen ( Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1978) 145; translated from: The Selfish Gene ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976).
6.
F. Wagner, ed., Menschenzüchtung (München: C.H.Beck Verlag, 1969).
7.
The famous CIBA Symposion is extensively discussed in ibid., with criticism in R. Löw , Gen-Manipulation. Die geklonte Natur (Rastatt: Moewig Verlag, 1987) 183-191.

-156-

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