Bioethics and Caring
van Hooft, Stan
Journal of Medical Ethics. 1996 Apr; 22(2): 83-89.
The author agrees with the critiques of moral theory offered by such writers as Bernard Williams and Alasdair MacIntyre, and uses ideas from Heidegger and Levinas to argue that caring is an ontological structure of human existence which takes two forms: caring about oneself (which he calls our "self-project") and caring-about-others. This dual form of caring is expressed on four Aristotelian levels of human living which the author describes and illustrates with reference to the phenonomenon of pain. It is concluded from this analysis that traditional notions of morality as imposing obligations should give way to an understanding of ethics as the social forms given to our caring for ourselves and for others. A number of implications for ethical theory are sketched out with the conclusion that virtue theory should be preferred and that the model could be worked out more fully to show that virtue theory can be internalist, particularist, pluralist, personalist, and objectivist.