Publicly Accessible Intuitions: "Neutral Reasons" and Bioethics
Christian Bioethics 2007 May-August; (13)2: 183-197
This article examines Leon Kass's contention that a choice for physician-assisted suicide is "undignified." Although Kass is Jewish rather than Christian, he argues for positions that most Christians share, and he argues for these positions without presupposing the truth of specific religious claims. I argue that although Kass has some important intuitions, he too readily assumes that these intuitions will be shared by his audience, and that this assumption diminishes the force of his argument. An examination of the limitations of Kass's argument is helpful insofar as it illustrates the real challenge faced by religious believers who wish to defend their beliefs in the "public forum." For it illustrates that what needs to be made "accessible" is the Judeo-Christian understanding of man and his place in the world. While I do not wish to claim that this task is impossible, I do think that it is far more difficult than most realize. Like all important tasks, however, unless we wrestle with the difficulties it raises, our arguments will strike many as unconvincing.
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