Dignity, conscience and religious pluralism in healthcare : An argument for a presumption in favour of respect for religious belief

Journal article


Kirchhoffer, David G.. (2023). Dignity, conscience and religious pluralism in healthcare : An argument for a presumption in favour of respect for religious belief. Bioethics. 37(1), pp. 88-97. https://doi.org/10.1111/bioe.13110
AuthorsKirchhoffer, David G.
Abstract

Religious pluralism in healthcare means that conflicts regarding appropriate treatment can occur because of convictions of patients and healthcare workers alike. This contribution argues for a presumption in favour of respect for religious belief on the basis that such convictions are judgements of conscience, and respect for conscience is core to what it means to respect human dignity. The human person is a subject in relation to all that is. Human dignity refers to the worth of human persons as members of the species with capacities of reason and free choice that enable the realisation of dignity as self-worth through morally good behaviour. Conscience is both a feature of inherent dignity and necessary for acquiring dignity as self-worth. Conscience enables a person to identify objective values and disvalues for human flourishing, the rational capacity to reason about the relative importance of these values and the right way to achieve them and the judgement of the good end and the right means. Human persons are bound to follow their conscience because this is their subjective relationship to objective truth. Religious convictions are decisions of conscience because they are subjective judgements about objective truth. The presumption of respect for religious belief is limited by the normative dimension of human dignity such that a person's beliefs may be overridden if they objectively violate inherent dignity or morally legitimate acquired dignity.

Keywordsconscience; conscientious objection; dignity; healthcare; religious freedom; religious pluralism
Year2023
JournalBioethics
Journal citation37 (1), pp. 88-97
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd
ISSN0269-9702
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/bioe.13110
PubMed ID36417592
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85143083766
PubMed Central IDPMC10098628
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Page range88-97
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online23 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted26 Oct 2022
Deposited16 Jun 2023
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