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From reason to practice in bioethicsAn anthology dedicated to the works of John Harris$
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John Coggon, Sarah Chan, Soren Holme, and Thomasine Kushner

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719096235

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719096235.001.0001

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The Unbearable desire for explicitness and rationality in bioethics

The Unbearable desire for explicitness and rationality in bioethics

(p.56) 5 The Unbearable desire for explicitness and rationality in bioethics
From reason to practice in bioethics

Michael Parker

Micaela Ghisleni

Manchester University Press

This chapter considers the claim that the moral life is to be delineated in terms of explicit reason-giving and justification and the related claim that moral development is to be identified with increasing rationality. The authors reject this claim and argue against that a full and coherent account of morality and of the moral life must be one which recognises that, whilst crucially important, the giving of reasons and the provision of explicit justifications, emphasised by John Harris, inevitably takes place against, and indeed only make sense as part of, a rich and intersubjective background of more or less implicit moral discourses and practices which are themselves constituted by and constitute a background of developmental social relationships with a moral dimension. The authors emphasise that this does not imply that it is unreasonable to expect of those in powerful positions that they be explicit about the ethical principles and standards by which their practice is guided or that they should not be held accountable for their actions.

Keywords:   Moral development, Social relationships, Intersubjective, Moral life, Rationality, Explicit reason-giving, Justification, Accountability

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