sábado, 11 de junio de 2016

“We belong to something larger than ourselves and that our actions matter, for good or harm, beyond just us”

Mystery vs. Mastery: Reframing the Debates in our Culture Wars

by Christopher White

The bitterness of competing narratives in today’s culture wars can give the impression that no agreement is possible between opposing sides. Margaret Somerville proposes a way forward through a shared ethic of wonder at the mystery and dignity of human life.

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Carter v. Canada that the country’s ban on physician-assisted suicide was in direct violation of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. The Court went on to set a one-year deadline for provinces to set their own guidelines for the new law to take effect. A year later, however, there’s no shortage of controversies over how to apply the law, the terms under which it can be enacted, and, perhaps most worrisome, whether there will be adequate conscience protections for medical professionals who object to the law.

In her newly released book, Bird on an Ethics Wire: Battles about Values in the Culture Wars, Margaret Somerville notes that many of our cultural debates center on the beginning and ending of life, and for good reason. Somerville, professor of law and medicine at Quebec’s McGill University, writes:

We have always formed our most important shared values around the two great events of human life, birth and death, and the euthanasia debate will decide whether we will change some of the most important and fundamental of these shared values, in particular respect for human life at both the individual and societal levels.

Judging then by the looming prospect of a law that would radically diminish the value of human life and jeopardize the practice of medicine, the country’s future might seem rather bleak. But as Somerville concludes, it doesn’t—and shouldn’t—have to be this way.

In a sweeping analysis of the standard “culture war issues”—debates over abortion, the role of religion in the public square, reproductive technologies, academic freedom, and assisted suicide and euthanasia—Somerville aims to deepen our understanding of what motivates those on opposing sides, and aims to construct a shared ethic that unites individuals and societies in a deeper, more substantive vision of the human person and the communities we inhabit.


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