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Public Reason in Bioethics



Taking part in secular discussion is difficult for a Christian philosopher. An approach that has often been favoured by Catholic philosophers is to attempt to engage at a level of pure reason using natural law concepts. This paper argues that such an approach sells us short and represents a failure to engage in secular discussion on equal terms and a failure to give adequate witness to the teachings of Christ. The paper seeks to argue that while it is not true that reason has a wax nose, as former Cardial Ratzinger argued, there is a role for faith-derived concepts in secular discussion and for encouraging others to share their view whether faith based or not, and for subjecting those concepts to the scrutiny afforded by rational analysis in an effort to achieve an identified common ground of human goodness that both transcends individual culture and belief but has its individual origins within the disparate cultures and traditions.