Self and Other in Global Bioethics: Critical Hermeneutics and the Example of Different Death Concepts
Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy 2009 May; 12(2): 137-145
Our approach to global bioethics will depend, among other things, on how we answer the questions whether global bioethics is possible and whether it, if it is possible, is desirable. Our approach to global bioethics will also vary depending on whether we believe that the required bioethical deliberation should take as its principal point of departure that which we have in common or that which we have in common and that on which we differ. The aim of this article is to elaborate a theoretical underpinning for a bioethics that acknowledges the diversity of traditions and experiences without leading to relativism. The theoretical underpinning will be elaborated through an exploration of the concepts of sameness, otherness, self and other, and through a discussion of the conditions for understanding and critical reflection. Furthermore, the article discusses whether the principle of respect for the other as both the same and different can function as the normative core of this global bioethics. The article also discusses the New Jersey Death Definition Law and the Japanese Transplantation Law. These laws are helpful in order to highlight possible implications of the principle of respect for the other as both the same and different. Both of these laws open the door to more than one concept of death within one and the same legal system. Both of them relate preference for a particular concept of death to religious and/or cultural beliefs.
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