On the Possibility of a Pragmatic Discourse Bioethics: Putnam, Habermas, and the Normative Logic of Bioethical Inquiry
Cooke, Elizabeth F.
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 2003 October-December; 28(5-6): 635-653
Pragmatic bioethics represents a novel approach to the discipline of bioethics, yet has met with criticisms which have beset the discipline of bioethics in the past. In particular, pragmatic bioethics has been criticized for its excessively fuzzy approach to fundamental questions of normativity, which are crucial to a field like bioethics. Normative questions need answers, and consensus is not always enough. The approach here is to apply elements of the discourse ethics of Habermas and Putnam to the sphere of bioethics, in order to develop a normative structure out of the framework of bioethical inquiry as it stands. The idea here is that the process of inquiry contains its own normative structure as it aims to discover norms. Such an approach, which fuses pragmatic bioethics with discourse ethics (which equally draws on pragmatism), may rightly be called a "Pragmatic Discourse Bioethics."
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