METHODOLOGICAL AND SUBSTANTIVE DEVELOPMENT IN CATHOLIC MEDICAL ETHICS: A CRITICAL STUDY OF THE WORK OF BERNARD HARING

RONALD PHILIP HAMEL, Fordham University

Abstract

Roman Catholic medical ethics has not escaped the critique of manualist moral theology nor the influence of revisionist methodologies of the post-Vatican II era. These have impacted upon both methodology and moral evaluation of specific issues, effecting something of a re-orientation in Catholic medical moral.^ Bernard Haring, well-known for his achievements in the renewal of moral theology, has been part of this re-orientation. He has, in recent years, devoted several articles and two major works to the subject--Medical Ethics and Ethics of Manipulation--as well as sections of his recent Free and Faithful in Christ. These works are among the first by a Roman Catholic moral theologian to reflect a broader understanding of the discipline, a revisionist methodology, and an attempt to provide a comprehensive approach that addresses, from a theological perspective, some foundational questions prior to an assessment of concrete problems.^ In this study, the author examines Haring's bioethics, in the large context of his general moral theology, in order to demonstrate the methodological and substantive development which his work represents vis-a-vis that of the American medical moralists writing in the manualist tradition, and to assess the possible contributions it has made toward the re-doing of Catholic medical ethics.^ Considered, in five chapters, are the structural components of Haring's bioethics, scriptural usage and content, theory of natural law, normative ethical theory, and application of his methodology to substantive issues, all in contrast to the medical moral textbooks.^ Haring's bioethics is found to constitute a significant methodological and, in some areas, substantive, departure from the textbooks, and to contribute important emphases in the on-going revision of Catholic medical morality, namely, a broader conceptualization of the discipline and a biblical, theological, personalist, historically conscious and character-centered approach. These contributions, however, are tempered by serious shortcomings, in particular, inadequate theoretical development, absence of a clearly articulated and coherent analytical framework, and lack of rigorous analysis and argumentation. While Haring's biomedical ethics is important, it is also of the same pioneering and transitional nature as his general moral theology.^

Subject Area

Theology

Recommended Citation

RONALD PHILIP HAMEL, "METHODOLOGICAL AND SUBSTANTIVE DEVELOPMENT IN CATHOLIC MEDICAL ETHICS: A CRITICAL STUDY OF THE WORK OF BERNARD HARING" (January 1, 1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI8219244.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8219244

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