Feminist Approaches to Bioethics: Theoretical Reflections and Practical Applications

Feminist Approaches to Bioethics: Theoretical Reflections and Practical Applications

Feminist Approaches to Bioethics: Theoretical Reflections and Practical Applications

Feminist Approaches to Bioethics: Theoretical Reflections and Practical Applications

Synopsis

No other group of medical issues affects the genders as differently as those related to procreation. In this book, Tong offers an approach to feminist bioethics designed to guide the various factions towards a consensus.

Excerpt

For a long time now, I have struggled to articulate what a feminist approach to bioethics is and how such an approach to bioethics differs from a nonfeminist one. in Part 1 of this book I aim to locate feminist approaches to bioethics within a larger ethical context. I first explain and critique some so-called dominant and alternative nonferminist approaches to ethics. Among the dominant traditions I discuss in Chapter 1 are classical virtue- centered ethics (Aristotle), utility-oriented ethics (Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill), duty-focused ethics (Immanuel Kant and W. D. Ross), sentiment-motivated ethics (David Hume), law-based ethics (discussed under the rubric of Natural Law), and contract-grounded ethics (John Rawls). Among the alternative traditions I discuss are contemporary virtue theory (Alasdair MacIntyre), contemporary sentiment theory (Larry Blum), existentialism (Jean-Paul Sartre), communitarianism (Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor, Roberto Unger, and Michael Walzer), pragmatism (John Dewey and William James), conceptualism (Robert L. Holmes), and communicative ethics (Jürgen Habermas and Richard Rorty).

Although feminists are eager to distinguish their approaches to ethics from those of nonfeminists, they do not wish to reject all the moral principles, concepts, and virtues that have guided the Western tradition for centuries. Even if it were possible for feminists to interpret ethics entirely de novo, it would be very foolish for them to do so. For all their flaws, the Principle of Utility and the Categorical Imperative, for example, have much to recommend them. After all, who does not think it is important to minimize pain and to maximize pleasure, to promote individual and societal well-being, to treat each person as worthy of equal respect and consideration, and to do one's duty because it is one's duty? Nevertheless, feminists insist that many of the Western tradition's principles, concepts, and virtues need to be reinterpreted, reassessed, and transformed in order to reflect women's as well as men's perspectives. For this reason . . .

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