Fragmentation and Consensus

cover art
192 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878407545 (0878407545)

June 1999
LC: 97-6087



Fragmentation and Consensus
Communitarian and Casuist Bioethics
Mark G. Kuczewski
Both communitarianism and casuistry have sought to restore ethics as a practical science—the former by incorporating various traditions into a shared definition of the common good, the latter by considering the circumstances of each situation through critical reasoning.

Mark G. Kuczewski analyzes the origins and methods of these two approaches and forges from them a new unified approach. This approach takes the communitarian notion of the person as its starting point but also relies upon the narrative and analogical tools of case-based reasoning. He separates out the rhetoric that is incongruent with the Aristotelian aspirations of each method to show that the two are complementary, and that consensus can emerge from fragmentation.

He then applies his resulting method to three major problems in bioethics: the difficulties that the issue of personal identity poses for advance directives, the role of the family in medical decision making, and the refusal of treatment because of religious beliefs. He analyzes the need to assume a communitarian notion of the person as a starting point for the application of casuistic insights.

Combining theoretical, practical, and scholarly insights, this book will be of interest to philosophers, political and social scientists, and bioethicists.
Mark G. Kuczewski is an assistant professor of bioethics and director of graduate studies at the Center for the Study of Bioethics, Medical College of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee. He is the former associate director of the Consortium Ethics Program at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Medical Ethics.
"An original and subtle moral theory. . . . an interesting and valuable synthesis of two important approaches to bioethics. . . It will be of interest to anyone interested in the foundations of bioethics."—Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

"May be the best book ever written about the relationship between theory and practice in bioethics. . . . essential reading for a new generation of scholars."—Glenn McGee, associate director, University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics