Introduction to Jewish and Catholic Bioethics: A Comparative Analysis

By Aaron L. Mackler | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Methodology in Roman Catholic
Moral Theology

IN THE INTRODUCTION I PRESENT THE AGENDA OF THIS BOOK and sketch core ethical values that are central in each tradition. Vital as such foundational elements are, they represent only the beginning of the process of articulating norms and judgments in bioethics. These values must be concretized and specified to determine which actions and practices will enable their appropriate realization for individuals, institutions, and communities. Granted that responsible stewardship is an ethical value that should shape a religious perspective on the possible use of reproductive technologies, what does stewardship actually mean in this context?

Moreover, there may be tension among differing values in a particular situation. A Jew or Catholic caring for a dying patient would be well advised to act in a manner supportive of values such as life, health, respect for patient choices, love, compassion, spiritual growth, family, responsible stewardship, fair allocation of resources in the community, and respect for God's sovereignty. What if the implications of these values are unclear, however, or appear to point in different directions? Would a judgment that a given life-sustaining treatment be forgone represent an infringement on divine sovereignty, or would continuing to prolong life artificially really be the infringement? Would prolongation of life always represent a benefit to the patient? If not, what would be the criteria for judging that an extension of life is not beneficial? What if a family's choice for an incapacitated patient appears to health care professionals to be less compassionate than alternatives or to represent an unfair or unwise allocation of resources?1

In this chapter and the following chapter, I sketch Roman Catholic and Jewish methodologies in bioethics. First I present a brief overview

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Introduction to Jewish and Catholic Bioethics: A Comparative Analysis
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Methodology in Roman Catholic Moral Theology 25
  • Chapter 2 - Methodology in Jewish Ethics 44
  • Chapter 3 - Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide 64
  • Chapter 4 - Treatment Decisions Near the End of Life 85
  • Chapter 5 - Abortion 120
  • Chapter 6 - In Vitro Fertilization 156
  • Chapter 7 - Access to Health Care and Rationing 190
  • Conclusion 212
  • Works Cited 239
  • Index 253
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