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In die Skriflig

On-line version ISSN 2305-0853
Print version ISSN 1018-6441

In Skriflig (Online) vol.46 n.1 Pretoria Aug. 2012




An integrated ethical approach to bioethical decision-making: A proposed model for ministers


'n Geïntegreerde etiese benadering tot bioetiese besluitneming: Voorgestelde model vir predikante



Magdalena C. de Lange

School of Ecclesiastical Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa





This article outlined a model for guidance in 'doing' bioethics in a Reformed context. The proposed model suggested that in order to arrive at responsible ethical decisions, one must refer to both contextual elements and theory. The theoretical grounding for this model was based on the integration of a deontological and virtue ethics approach, arguing that virtue enables persons to know and desire the right moral ends and motivates them to carry out appropriate action toward achieving these ends. An integrative model opens up the possibility whereby bioethics as a systematic tool provides the individual decision-maker with the critical-reflective skills and justification for the ultimate choice that is lacking in the general decision-making processes. This could lead to clearer thinking and increased confidence in the justification of decisions within the Reformed tradition. The proposed hermeneutical perspective on ethical decision-making represents a shift in views about the nature of knowledge and the process of how we come to know. The key to this hermeneutical approach is to acknowledge the dialectic between the universal and the subjectivity of human relations. Working in specific religious communities, one needs to take cognisance of the fact that knowledge is situated in the context of human relationships in which the interpreter participates when articulating the meaning of bioethical experiences. Another aspect that is anticipated lies in the realisation that people struggling with bioethical dilemmas should not be viewed as isolated individuals, but as members of a broader faith community.


Hierdie artikel het 'n model geskets wat moontlike riglyne aantoon vir die beoefening van bioetiek binne 'n Gereformeerde konteks. Die voorgestelde model argumenteer dat verwysing na beide kontekstuele elemente en teorie onafwendbaar is om tot verantwoordelike bioetiese besluite te kan kom. Die teoretiese begronding vir hierdie model het op die integrasie van deontologiese- en karakteretiek berus en is gebaseer op die argument dat karakteretiek persone in staat stel om die regte morele doelwitte te ken en motiveer hulle ook om die nodige stappe te neem om dit te bereik. 'n Geïntegreerde model skep die moontlikheid vir bioetiek as 'n sistematiese stuk gereedskap om die individuele besluitnemer met die kritiesreflektiewe vaardighede en gronde vir regverdiging van die finale keuses toe te rus, aspekte wat in algemene besluitnemingsprosesse ontbreek. Dit kan ook lei tot helderder denke en groter vertroue in die motivering van besluite binne die Gereformeerde tradisie. Die voorgestelde hermeneutiese perspektief op etiese besluitneming verteenwoordig 'n verskuiwing in aanvaarde sienings oor die aard van kennis en die prosesse wat tot kennis lei. Die sleutel tot hierdie hermeneutiese benadering is om erkenning te gee aan die dialektiek tussen die universele en subjektiewe menslike verhoudings. Dit is veronderstel dat persone wat in spesifieke geloofsgemeenskappe werk daarop ag moet slaan dat kennis binne die konteks van menslike verhoudings - waarbinne die interpreteerder funksioneer - gesetel is wanneer die betekenis van bioetiese ervaring geartikuleer word. 'n Verdere aspek was die erkenning van die feit dat mense wat met bioetiese dilemmas worstel nie as geïsoleerde individue beskou moet word nie, maar as lede van 'n breër geloofsgemeenskap.



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Hans van Deventer
PO Box 1174
Vanderbijlpark 1900
South Africa

Received: 14 Mar. 2011
Accepted: 02 Sept 2011
Published: 19 Oct. 2012



Shortly after this article was completed, Dr. Leentie de Lange passed away on 05 July 2011 after a long and courageous battle of fourteen and a half years against cancer. Prof. Hans van Deventer was one of the promoters who supervised the thesis from which this article emanated, and agreed to act as correspondent.

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