Prometheus's Yellow Light of Caution May Not Be Enough
Gilbert Meilaender, a guest on multiple volumes of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal, was invited to present a paper on bioethics for the Ethics and Public Policy Center's semi-annual conference on religion and public life in December 2004. A transcript of his talk, complete with a reply from a journalist attending the conference, is available on-line.
In "Bioethics and Human Nature: Exploring Some Background Issues," Meilaender emphasizes the need for morally serious thinking about bioethics grounded in an understanding of human nature. Before one can wisely recommend implementation of bioethical practices, one ought to have a firm grasp on what it means to be human. Meilaender points out that bioethics offers four ways of unpacking that very question, and he attends to each way in turn, devoting the bulk of his paper to setting the stage for further reflection about bioethical issues. The four themes Meilaender examines are: the unity and integrity of the human being; human finitude and freedom; the relation between the generations; and suffering and vulnerability. He closes his discussion with the tale of Prometheus, and he advocates not only the caution advised therein, but also the ability and willingness to stop "progress" if necessary. He writes, "Now, quite often, of course, proceeding with caution is perfectly sound advice. . . . But if we really want to be morally serious, the ability to stop, to decline to go forward, may also sometimes be needed . . . ."
"The Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) was established in 1976 to clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues. Its program includes research, writing, publication, and conferences." (Quote taken from the web pages of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.) [Posted February 2005, ALG]