Exploring Interdisciplinarity: a theoretical consideration of Bioethics at the interface between Theology, Philosophy and Life Sciences
De Lange, M C
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Complex ethical problems resulting from research and advances in biotechnologies increasingly confront Christian ministers and theologians with difficult and complex moral dilemmas. Where do they turn to in order to give guidance and answer questions concerning practical bioethical problems? This article argues that Bioethics as the systematic study of specific moral dilemmas implies conjoining a variety of ethical methodologies in an interdisciplinary framework. In trying to clarify this complex nature of Bioethics when practiced specifically from a Christian Theological viewpoint, the article examines theoretical considerations regarding the interface between three contributing disciplines, viz. Theology, Philosophy and Life Sciences. This is done by investigating three questions: What is the place of Bioethics in the hierarchy of disciplines? In what way do Philosophy, Theology, and Life Sciences contribute to the theoretical foundations of interdisciplinary Bioethics?, and How do different methodologies relate to one another in order to show the true interdisciplinary character of Bioethics? The article concludes that it is vital to re-examine the theoretical basis of Bioethics as a philosophical grounding or methodology in order to place moral knowledge within a meta-theoretical and epistemological framework. It is clear that Bioethics is a complex endeavour served by many disciplines, as well as a complex interdisciplinary form of knowledge. Scholars, scientists and theologians must all learn to transcend the barriers between the multitude of interrogational disciplines and endeavour to work towards designing a wellfounded and meaningful framework within which the methodological assumptions and theoretical grounding have been clarified, and one which also recognizes the complex interdisciplinary nature of Bioethics.