Contemporary bioethics is a field born of the necessity of its times. Its
development and growth are largely propelled by the advances of medical
technology, shaped by the wheel of crushing economics. Medical advances, by
creating difficult moral dilemmas, probe the consciences of the profession and of
society in general of the deeper ethical questions about humans, their humanity, their
life and death.
Many theories or approaches have sprouted to meet the challenges or the tasks
of solving these puzzling moral dilemmas. Of the maze of methods, the FourPrinciple
Approach espoused by Beauchamp and Childress seems to command the
popularity of the field, of course, not without significant criticisms. The Medical
Covenant is another method offered by William F. May and affirmed by others to be
the "corrective lens" of contemporary bioethics. This dissertation seeks to contribute
to the clarification project of the variegate bioethical methods, theories and
approaches by examining this claim: Is the Medical Covenant a "corrective vision" to
contemporary bioethics as reflected in the dominant Four-Principle Approach?
The dissertation attempts to answer this question by juxtaposing the two
approaches side by side for five chosen topics in a method that includes A) an
"unpacking" process, and B) a test of relevancy. The "unpacking" process attempts to
unveil the underlying logic and philosophies of their positions and the bioethical
options offered. A test of relevancy asks the question whether the "corrections," if
any, offered by the Medical Covenant are relevant to the tasks of the bioethical
enterprise. The dissertation finds the answers to both questions in the affirmative.