THE DIS-(OTHERLY)ABLED AND PUBLIC MORALITY

Nico Koopman

Abstract


This article investigates the following question: How do disabled people and the
response of Christians to them influence public morality? In a first round it is
argued that the dominant ethical approach to health care, which is an approach that
functions within the modern or liberal approach to morality, does not produce an
adequate description of and response to the challenge posed by disabled people. The
understanding of morality, anthropology and theology (specifically the doctrine of
God) is consecutively described and evaluated. Morality, it is argued, is more than
the narrow morality of the modern paradigm, which focuses only on the moral
principles, and rules, which enable a society to exist without conflict and violence.
Morality is broader. It has to do with the underlying perspectives of religious and
nonreligious traditions on the nature of the good life, good societies and good
people. Morality in the sphere of medical care is also wide morality. With regard to
anthropology it is argued that the worth of human beings is not defined by their
capacity of self-consciousness and reflective thinking, but by their vulnerability and
their dependence upon each other. The Trinitarian basis of this anthropology is
investigated. In a final round the implications of this alternative understanding of
morality, anthropology and theology for the ethical challenges posed by disabled
people are outlined. The meaning of these challenges for public morality is finally
spelled out.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/82-0-899

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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