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Discussing difference and dealing with desolation and despair

Editorial for the 8(4) issue of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

By Michael A. Ashby and Leigh E. Rich

The Journal of Bioethical Inquiry (JBI) sets out to be a respected and respectful forum for the exchange of ideas, where moral issues we encounter in health care, biology, and the broader life and social sciences can be discussed in depth and with an intention toward mutual understanding. The JBI attempts to serve this mission by curating (to the best of our abilities) a safe space for academic research and debate. Ground rules exist regarding academic rigor, honesty, and truth-seeking. Rules of engagement and argumentation derived from the philosophical disciplines of ethics and logic ensure we avoid contradiction, fallacious argument structures, and language mistakes or misunderstandings. A number of methodological “techniques” or “schools” of ethical analysis are recognized—deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, casuistry—and we aim to be fair and open to each of them. It is clearly understood that racist and discriminatory material is neither acceptable nor publishable, and, fortunately, we rarely receive such submissions. We hope this dedication to both comprehensive examinations of moral issues and a tolerance and respect for others, all so central to the raison d’être of any ethics journal, is implicit in all that we do and in what we publish. Just as politics deals with differences in how we socially and legally govern ourselves, ethics deals with differences about how we morally conduct our lives. (That is why the term “unethical” can be seen as nonsensical, often used where one means “immoral.”)

In all cases, it is better to talk about our differences than to fight over them. The pen is not only mightier than the sword but also more magnanimous. Here at the JBI, we adopt a “360-degree” multidisciplinary approach and believe that, in “doing ethics,” we need diverse methodologies, voices, and scholarship traditions to best “see” a subject.

But what happens when such peaceful methods of dialogue and negotiation break down and violent conflict breaks out? Worse still, how do the communities affected (as well as the rest of the world) cope with racially, religiously, and/or politically motivated ethnocentrism, hate crimes, and genocide? [continued …]

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Ashby, Michael A., and Leigh E. Rich. 2011. Discussing difference and dealing with desolation and despair. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 8(4): 315–317.

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