I’m behind schedule since posting my last article. Partly due to researching and writing a paper proposal for the 2014 Society of Christian Philosophers conference. This time the conference theme will be celebrating Alvin Plantinga’s classic “Advice for Christian Philosophers“. My mentor alerted me to the audition deadline for the conference this past Thursday… and the deadline was this morning at midnight. So I spent some serious writing/researching time on it that I would’ve otherwise put into writing for this. Here’s the abstract that I submitted. Hopefully it gets accepted, although if I have enough people asking me to write it for GRK Wildcat, I’d be willing to work on it even if it doesn’t make it in.
Advice for Christian Bioethicists: Navigating an Old Problem in a New Context
Christian views in bioethics, specifically the abortion debate, still suffer from the same poor regard and hostility from the academic community that Christian philosophy in general suffered from around the time of Plantinga’s “Advice for Christian Philosophers” (AFCP). Like earlier Christian philosophers, Christian bioethicists today have to navigate widely-accepted arguments that not only yield conclusions antithetical to orthodox Christianity (like infanticide and eugenics) but also draw from theoretical frameworks that are incompatible with Christianity. As Don Marquis has noted, the abortion debate has been deadlocked for some time; is the Christian anti-abortion stance destined to be forever relegated as an irrational fringe position as the field continues to embrace conclusions that many Christians consider immoral?
I believe Plantinga’s proposed method for doing Christian philosophy in “AFCP” may be promising for Christian progress in bioethics. Christian bioethicists should apply Plantinga’s advice and base their ethics on Christian principles they know to be true, even if many current philosophers will scoff and find this methodology unconvincing. Plantinga’s method seems vital towards Christian progress in bioethics, because as Marquis has noted, anti-abortionists and pro-abortionists draw from incommensurate goods, and I will argue Marquis thus reveals these two sides to be examples of “rival ethical traditions” that MacIntyre discusses in Whose Justice? Which Rationality? If they are rival ethical traditions, then it would be wise to work from Plantinga’s method, because as MacIntyre argues, the only other option for defeating a rival ethic is to reduce it to a reductio ad absurdum or incoherence. Moreover, Plantinga’s call for Christian boldness and courage implies that abolitionist movements and activism may also play vital roles in helping bring change to bioethics: Christians should focus on converting the views of their less-antagonistic societies instead of trying to persuade their radical antagonists through a rigged, deadlocked academic debate.
Also, despite writing this I nevertheless wrote an article responding to a very famous, well-regarded paper in the abortion debate: Don Marquis’ “Why Abortion is Immoral“. You might want to read it to prepare for my response, although I think anyone will be able to follow my thoughts if they don’t. Believe it or not, I’m very critical of it, even though it’s (mostly) anti-abortion, and I am very anti-abortion. You’ll have to read my response to find out why. Expect to see it on here within the next 24 hours.