Introduction to Jewish and Catholic Bioethics

cover art
280 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878401468 (0878401466)

October 2003
LC: 2003006938

Moral Traditions series


Table of Contents

Introduction to Jewish and Catholic Bioethics
A Comparative Analysis
Aaron L. Mackler

Leavened with compassion, common sense, and a readable style, this introduction to complicated bioethical issues from both Jewish and Catholic perspectives is as informative as it is undaunting. Aaron Mackler takes the reader through methodology in Roman Catholic moral theology and compares and contrasts it with methodology as it is practiced in Jewish ethics. He then skillfully wends his way through many topics foremost on the contemporary ethical agenda for both Jewish and Catholic ethicists: euthanasia and assisted suicide, end-of-life decisions, abortion, in vitro fertilization, and the ever-growing problem of justice regarding access to health care and medical resources. A concluding chapter summarizes general tendencies in the comparison of the two traditions, and addresses the significance of convergence and divergence between these traditions for moral thinkers within each faith community, and generally in western democracies such as the United States.

As Mackler overviews these issues, he points out the divergences and the commonalities between the two traditions—clarifying each position and outlining the structure of thinking that supports them. At the heart of both Catholic and Jewish perspectives on bioethics is a life-affirming core, and while there may be differences in the "why" of those ethical divergences, and in the "how" each arrived at varying—or the same—conclusions, both traditions, in the words of James McCartney as quoted in the introduction, "are guided by the principle that life is precious; that we are bidden to preserve and guard our health; that we are bidden to intervene in nature to raise the human estate; and that our lives are not our own, but are part of the legacy bequeathed to us by the Creator." This book has been carefully crafted in that spirit.

Aaron L. Mackler is associate professor in the Department of Theology, Duquesne University, and editor of Life and Death Responsibilities in Jewish Biomedical Ethics.

James F. Keenan, SJ, Series Editor
"The Roman Catholic and Jewish traditions in medical ethics are centuries old but still influential with millions of patients, health professionals, and the public. Anyone hoping to understand the spectrum of bioethical opinions today will want to read this superb, well-written, and accurate summary of the similarities and differences in both traditions. Highly recommended to scholars, health professionals, policymakers, and bioethicists."—Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD, Chair, President's Council on Bioethics, 2005-2009, and professor emeritus of medicine and medical ethics, Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center

"In this important book, Mackler provides a nuanced comparison of Jewish and Roman Catholic bioethics in their respective moral methods and their discussions of five specific topics. Mackler's mastery of the literature from both traditions is obvious, and his conclusions are balanced. He compellingly traces the rich common ground of values that the traditions share, as well as ways that their characteristic differences may be mutually instructive."—Andrew Lustig, department of religious studies, Rice University

"Aaron Mackler is one of the most thoughtful and thorough scholars of the field of Jewish bioethics, and this book is in a sense a continuation of a dialogue both historical and central to religious ethics, the interlocution between Jewish and Catholic interpretive communities, as both struggle with the emerging dilemmas of contemporary medicine."—Laurie Zoloth, professor of medical ethics and humanities, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Table of Contents

1. Methodology in Roman Catholic Moral Theology

2. Methodology in Jewish Ethics

3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

4. Treatment Decisions Near the End of Life

5. Abortion

6. In Vitro Fertilization

7. Access to Health Care and Rationing


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