Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

The great British natural-law philosopher John Haldane made a good case earlier this week on the BBC’s world service broadcast that to make public policy regarding controversial issues like assisted suicide, genetic engineering, and embryo manipulation, lawmakers need a common ethical framework and understanding of the value of human life. Without this framework, decisions about life and death become purely pragmatic, a matter of pleasing the most—or at least the most powerful—people, or are based entirely on intuition.

Haldane’s interlocutors—Lord Falconer, former Lord Chancellor, and Lisa Jardine, chair of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, the government agency—provided perfect fodder to prove his point as they argued that a common ethical framework is impossible to achieve, and unnecessary. “Spiritual objections,” Falconer argued, cannot be considered by organizations like the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority. If they were considered, “then [the HFEA] couldn’t agree to half the things that they agree to.” Basic ethical principles, are unnecessary anyway, since “decent people”— as Falconer put it—and especially women, Jardine added, can rely on their their gut feeling to determine the morality and possible moral consequences of procedures like pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.

You can listen to the BBC segment here .

00 Days
00 Hours
00 Minutes
00 Seconds
Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before the clock above hits zero.

First Things is proud to be a reader-supported enterprise, and the Spring Campaign is one of only two major reader giving drives each year. It ends on June 30 at 11:59 p.m.

Your gift will fortify First Things to speak boldly on behalf of religious voices in the public square ahead of a pivotal season for our nation and the church.

Please give now.

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles