Free Essay On Michael Merry Correctly Describes Engelhardt's Theory

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Ethics, Morality, Bioethics, Human, Life, Liberty, Equality, Civil Rights

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/27

Michael Merry gives a blunt criticism of Engelhardt’s theory of foundations of bioethics. According to the author, Engelhardt reveals a suspicion towards a cacophonous plurality of bioethics. He argues that this plurality is borne out of secular moral vision. This proposition is true because Engelhardt’s second edition explores a secular moral vision. He attempts to disintegrate post modernity as well as its adherents for the reason that they offer no structure that can enable an individual to negotiate moral choices. This is in consonance with Michael Merry’s criticism. Merry believes that Engelhardt cannot conceptualize an honest, integrative and salutary ethic (Merry 388). He adds that certain ultimate questions cannot be answered in the absence of unified moral vision. Such questions require deeper philosophical meaning since they involve cultivation of the metaphysical aspects of human understanding.
Merry argues that Engelhardt has not been able to tackle questions to do with God and life after death. Engelhardt posited that the moral significance of the post modern era requires understanding of each issue regarding bioethics. He argued that many scholars of bioethics tend to presuppose a common and overlapping understanding regarding appropriate polity. These perceptions are further reinforced by Miller. He posited that human beings have certain capabilities that enable them to recognize the various types of healthcare and determine which type is fair (Miller 16). They are also able to know if physicians may require treatment agreement for the disclosure of information. These capabilities include middle level principles and casuistic capacities. The aspect human intuition plays a role in the entrenchment of morality. Engelhardt contended that the nature of moral life is important in the discipline of healthcare. He added that human beings are bound by content full morality that makes human beings develop a pre-theoretical knowledge about which they can make useful decisions. These decisions relate to their theoretical understanding on the subject of bioethics (Engelhardt 337). Merry believes that lack of a unified moral vision is the cause of the absence of uniformity in culture, religion and politics (Merry 389).

Merry’s analysis of Engelhard

The analysis of Engelhardt by Michael Merry presents is partly agreeable. Merry believes that Engelhardt’s rejection of secular ethics on the basis that they understand the content full secular moral visions is a hyperbole assertion (Merry 389). He adds that it is ironical for Engelhardt to transpose one content-full vision for another in relation to his version of Easter Orthodoxy. This belief is expounded by Muzur and Hans-Martin. They recognize the different stories within the context of Orthodox tradition (Muzur & Hans-Martin 5). These stories have varying versions that suggests deeper multiplicity of tradition. Merry reject Engelhardt’s use of ‘us and them’. He argues that it is not easy to conclude that virtues are evacuated of the moral content in the wider spectrum of secular moral context (Merry 390). These views reflect the views of Engelhardt that describe the interesting similarities in the dominant account of bioethics. These similarities assume the existence of common canonical morality. This morality is fixed on nature, sentiments and reason of human beings. It is also assumes the ability of reason and reflection (Engelhardt 340). He adds that human beings should able to develop an analysis that can disclose the substance of their morality. However, this may not be easy to achieve because of the existence of diverse sentiments, visions and sympathies. Lewens added that the level of human disagreements can be determined from their substantive disputes that regard issues such as abortion, suicide and health care reform (8). While reinforcing this opinion, Beauchamp argued that no middle level of principles can narrow the differences in the event human beings disagree (7).
The other point of agreement is through the question regarding non-theologically minded persons and their capability of living coherent, moral lives while pursuing virtue (Merry 395). This account coincides with Engelhardt. However, the question remains as to whether Engelhardt can accord openness to various traditions as one possibility for maintaining different approaches to bioethics. There is a valid concern that privatization of moral commitments would make consensus the subject of bioethical decision making difficult.

Strengths and weaknesses of Michael Merry analysis

The analysis of Engelhardt presents various strengths and weaknesses. Michael Merry largely agrees with Engelhardt’s position in the foundations of bioethics. Choosing many competing visions on the premise of sound moral arguments is the core concern of bioethics. These visions compete on the account of fairness, justice and behavior. A strong background of moral guidance is needed if one is to choose from among a list of competing content-full moralities. Through the analysis, one is able to compare competing benefits and determine an account that yields maximum benefits and minimum threat. For example, liberty and equality cannot be compared vaguely without first knowing how they rank. If the goal is to choose one over the other, a deeper understanding of how they rank should be explored before any choice is made. One must know the answer about which morality is authoritative (Lewens 9). If that morality accords priority to liberty over equality, then one would need to choose liberty and forego equality.
However, if morality accords priority to equality over liberty, then one would choose equality and forego liberty. Michael Merry analysis enables one to know what to choose and what to forego in the context of bioethics. However, the analysis presents difficulty in differentiating canonical ethics and bioethics. In addition, one may not be able to understand Merry’s analysis of the problematic beliefs that he believes to have been espoused in Engelhardt’s conceptualization of morality. This is because many people have no conscious thought about why they regard certain thoughts and actions as either moral or immoral. People subscribe to morality because they are socialized to what is regarded as moral settings.

Works Cited

Beauchamp, Tom L. "Thieves of Virtue: When Bioethics Stole Medicine by Tom Koch (review)." Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 24.3 (2014): E11-E14.
Engelhardt Jr, H. Tristram. "Bioethics critically reconsidered: Living after foundations." Theoretical medicine and bioethics 33.1 (2012): 97-105.
Engelhardt, H. Tristram. "Bioethics reconsidered: Theory and method in a post-Christian, post-modern age." Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 6.4 (2006): 336-341.
Lewens, Tim. The Biological Foundations of Bioethics. Oxford University Press, 2014.
Merry, Michael S. "Libertarian bioethics and religion: the case of H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr." Bioethics 18.5 (2004): 387-407.
Miller, Jennifer E. "Irreligious bioethics, nonsense on stilts?." The American Journal of Bioethics 12.12 (2012): 15-17.
Muzur, Amir, and Hans-Martin Sass, eds. Fritz Jahr and the foundations of global bioethics: the future of integrative bioethics. Vol. 37. LIT Verlag Münster, 2012.
Nash, Ryan R. "HT Engelhardt, Jr., Misrepresented and Misunderstood: Beyond a Philosophy of Difference and toward a Theology of Unity." Christian Bioethics 20.2 (2014): 272-282.

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