Dr Kevin Smith

Monday, November 23 2015 at 7:00PM

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14-18 Perth Rd, Dundee, Angus DD1 4LN

Dr Kevin Smith

What's the talk about?

Not content that the UK parliament is already chock-full of religious peers and MPs, whose beliefs lead to legislation that strongly impinges upon personal freedom in medicine (e.g. the recent refusal to allow even a very narrow form of physician-assisted suicide), many theologians and other religiously motivated individuals would love to see religion being welcomed into the domain of medical ethics – a domain in which secular ideas have hitherto dominated.

Nigel Biggar, Oxford Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, is one those who want to see religion informing medical ethics decisions. This year his arguments for religion being given a seat at the negotiating table of medical ethics were published in the top-ranked Journal of Medical Ethics (JME), which will doubtless be viewed as a triumph for coreligionists who want to see medical ethics falling under the sway of religious beliefs.

A secular bioethicist, Dr Kevin Smith is highly sceptical towards the idea that religion has any place whatsoever in medical ethics. He argues that the flawed empirical basis, lack of rationality and non-universality inherent in religion disqualifies it from bioethical discourse; He suggests that while it would be unacceptable to attempt to debar religious individuals from the negotiating table, an exclusively secular approach is required for ethical decision-making in medicine. His counterarguments to Biggar’s position have subsequently been published in the JME, as have those from two independent academics. And now this month the JME has published a counter response by Biggar. Quite a dingdong!

Come along and hear more details of what the aggro is about. Given Kevin's views, this will inevitably be a somewhat one-sided talk, however we will be very happy to hear vigorously opposing views from religious members of the audience.

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