Many take it to be the case that religious arguments against euthanasia should not be admitted to the public square.
In a new article in the journal Christian Bioethics, Villanova University philosopher Stephen Napier makes an ambitious argument against this view.
Napier believes that the sorts of arguments usually made against religious perspectives actually undermine the very premises upon which the legalisation of euthanasia is justified.
His argument is based upon the claim that many people who reject religious viewpoints reject them precisely because they think God does not exist, and, what's more, they believe this because of some form of 'problem of evil' argument or reasoning.
When viewed in the context of the assisted dying debate, Napier suggests that the 'problem of evil' argument against religious belief simultaneously undermines the 'interests account of harm' that ordinarily will be used to justify the legalisation of euthanasia. It is Napier's contention that any plausible formulation of the 'problem of evil' argument requires a conception of harm that is far more sophisticated than the interests account of harm typically adopted by pro-euthanasia advocates.
Either this, or we should agree to admitting religious views to the bioethical public square -- at least on this issue. Or so Napier suggests.
It's a complex and (perhaps) contentious argument. It is, nevertheless, food for thought, particularly in a political climate where suspicion of religious perspectives is ubiquitous.
The shock of this week’s Presidential election in the United States has overshadowed other winners and losers on election night. Big Marijuana was a winner. Four states have legalised recreational marijuana and another four medical marijuana. Assisted suicide was a winner, with voters in Colorado passing a ballot initiative legalising it.
A big loser was the polling industry, which failed to predict Trump’s astonishing victory. This comes after other surprises (ie, failures) in the Brexit debate and the peace accord in Colombia.
And this has made pollsters’ clients suspicious. “A corporate market research project, you don’t know if your polling is shit because there’s no election day,” Dan Wagner, head of Democratic research firm Civis Analytics, told the Wall Street Journal. In politics, “there’s a day where you’re going to find out whether you were right or whether you’re an idiot.”
Since polling has become a weapon in bioethics policy debates on issues like euthanasia, abortion, or stem cell research, perhaps we can feel a bit more justified in our scepticism about polls which purport to show what the public thinks. It would be silly to say that polling is broken, but it certainly needs a good grease-and-oil change.
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