Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Cumberland Law Review

Publication Date

2005

Abstract

This essay describes an approach to moral conundrums (such as those occasioned by reproductive technology, including preimplantation genetic diagnosis) in a heterogeneous society. The approach, referred to as "mediative," is designed to clarify aspects of the process of moral contemplation. It does not aim to secure any particular sort of resolution or conclusion. In this sense, the approach is not exclusively committed to any particular religious or philosophical perspective regarding bioethical questions and can most felicitously accommodate many of them.

The approach reflects an anthropological apperception: the effort to understand the Other (the stranger, the outsider, the foreigner) depends on a process of mediating between the analyst's beliefs and the beliefs of the Other. The process is complicated because anthropologists usually begin without a clear sense of the Other's beliefs and with an incomplete or even misguided sense of their beliefs. The mediative approach that this essay describes requires a similar effort to understand the Other's beliefs from inside one's own and to become conscious, or more conscious, of one's own beliefs through reference to those of the Other. Thus, the process involves delimiting and then mediating among one's own and some Other's "moral" presumptions and choices. The first aspect of the task involves trying to reveal various assumptions underlying moral choices and conclusions. Then, the analyst must try to situate himself or herself in the ideological gap among different, often conflicting, presumptions in order to make sense of each set of presumptions from the perspective of another set of presumptions.

Part II of this essay delimits the scope of moral debate about preimplantation genetic diagnosis ("PGD"). This Part describes arguments that both favor and disfavor the technique. Part III then outlines the mediative approach to moral dilemmas such as those posed by PGD.

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