Complexity, postmodernism and the bioethical dilemma
CITATION: De Roubaix, M. & Cilliers, P. 2008. Complexity, postmodernism and the bioethical dilemma. Acta Academica, 40(2):82-109.
The original publication is available at http://journals.ufs.ac.za
This article examines the implications of a postmodern ethics for bioethical problems. Traditional approaches to bioethics, with specific reference to “principlism”, depend on a modernist strategy which attempts to produce generalised solutions. Making use of complexity theory, it is shown that the factors specific to each instance cannot be reduced in an objective way. The contingency of each individual case has to be considered. This leads to an ethics which cannot be the result of following universal rules, but one that has to accept the responsibility for the outcome of our decisions, even if these outcomes are not fully predictable. The responsibility for our choices cannot be shifted onto some a priori principle.
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