Book Review: “Invitation to Christian Ethics”

Christian ethics and moral decision-making can be complex and intimidating to non-theologians. In addition, the authoritative scriptures do not directly address every possible ethical issue. This problem is especially true in bioethics, which evolves continuously based on medical, scientific, and technological advancements. How should Christians view such issues as artificial intelligence, gene editing, and bodily enhancements? Pastors, healthcare professionals, and lay congregants need help. Invitation to Christian Ethics: Moral Reasoning and Contemporary Issues, by Kenneth Magnuson, gives moral guidance to the Christian community to navigate these problems. While not perfect, it offers a solid philosophical and practical approach to Christian ethics.

First Principles for Medical Artificial Intelligence

Medical artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, by their capacity to decipher enormous data sets, identify meaningful patterns beyond what human intelligence can recognize, and in some cases render decisions without human assistance, are poised to transform healthcare. As with any powerful technology, careful ethical analysis is needed if we are to realize the benefits of AI while avoiding its perils. Four available perspectives are recognized. One perspective is technological sentimentalism, which resists novel technologies that seem to displace a more natural way of inhabiting the world. A second perspective is technological messianism, which uncritically welcomes novel technology as intrinsically good and the answer to all human problems. A third perspective, common today, is technological pragmatism, which weighs benefits and risks in a utilitarian framework that emphasizes empirical facts but disregards moral values, considering them to be opinions without consequence or validity. A fourth and preferred perspective is technological responsibilism, which considers not only outcomes but also the moral values laden in the design and implementation of technology. Technological responsibilism respects the deeply human attributes of voluntary responsibility, moral agency, and character. Morally responsible use of AI is needed if healthcare professionals are to sustain their focus, not on technology, but on patients.

The Pandemic, Empathy Fatigue, and Ethical Motivations: Kant on Conscience and Scotus on Love

The social effects of the pandemic have exacerbated the ability and desire to overcome empathy fatigue and, consequently, have engendered more indifference towards others and isolationism among the population.  These effects challenge society’s moral resolve to care for others.  In this paper I present two ethical explanations of the basis of morality and moral action—Immanuel Kant’s ethic of pure will (conscience) and John Duns Scotus’ ethic of an ontology of love, and endeavor to show that a morality based solely on our rationally justifiable conscience does not adequately compel us to overcome empathy fatigue, whereas a morality based on an acknowledgement and affirmation of the lovableness of others can propel us to overcome empathy fatigue.