Integrative Bioethics: A Conceptually Inconsistent Project
11 Pages Posted: 12 May 2016
Date Written: June 2016
This article provides a critical evaluation of the central components of Integrative Bioethics, a project aiming at a bioethical framework reconceptualization. Its proponents claim that this new system of thought has developed a better bioethical methodology than mainstream Western bioethics, a claim that we criticize here. We deal especially with the buzz words of Integrative Bioethics – pluriperspectivism, integrativity, orientational knowledge, as well as with its underlying theory of moral truth. The first part of the paper looks at what the claims of a superior methodology consist in. The second reveals pluriperspectivism and integrativity to be underdeveloped, hazy terms, but which seem to be underpinned by two theses – the incommensurability and the inclusiveness theses. These theses we critically scrutinize. We then consider strategies the project's proponents might apply to curb these theses in order to acquire minimal consistency for their framework. This part of the article also deals with the conception of moral truth that drives the theory, a position equally burdened with inconsistencies. In the last part of the article, we observe the concept of orientational knowledge, and develop two interpretations of its possible meaning. We claim that, following the first interpretation, Integrative Bioethics is completely descriptive, in which case it is informative and important, but hardly bioethics; if it is normative, following the second interpretation, it is bioethics as we already know it, but merely clad in rhetorical embellishments. We conclude that there is nothing new about this project, and that its inconsistencies are reason enough for its abandonment.
Keywords: Integrative Bioethics, pluriperspectivism, integrativity, orientational knowledge, incommensurability, inclusiveness, normativity
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