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Law and BioethicsCurrent Legal Issues Volume 11$
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Michael Freeman

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199545520

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199545520.001.0001

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Bioethics: Bridging from Morality to Law?

Bioethics: Bridging from Morality to Law?

(p.12) 2 Bioethics: Bridging from Morality to Law?
Law and Bioethics

Roger Brownsword

Oxford University Press

This chapter is divided into four parts. The first part considers the view of ethics presented in the Nuffield Council on Bioethics' report, ‘Critical Care Decisions in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine: Ethical Issues’. According to this view, bioethics has a dual function. On the one hand, it is a critical discipline that ‘investigates the underlying reasons or justifications for specific moral beliefs or moral codes’. On the other hand, bioethics should also seek out platforms and pockets of moral convergence and consensus. The second part sketches the author's view from a particular rights-led legal idealist perspective. The third part considers the nature of the plurality that a critical bioethics will construct, the extent to which that operates against consensus, and the scope for bioethics to play a practically useful role. Finally, some ways in which the critical capacity of bioethics might be further deployed are suggested. It is argued that bioethics needs to transcend the plurality by developing a critical understanding of moral community itself.

Keywords:   bioethics, Nuffield Council on Bioethics, critical discipline, moral pluralism

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