Bioethics: A Blessing or a Curse: Some Philosophical Reflections

Silliman University, once again, added another year of its Founder’s Day celebration, i.e., the 106th Founder’s Day festivities. The whole 64 hectares occupied by the University in Dumaguete City was literally colored red with the kilometric stretch of its line up of activities from piano and guitar concerts and live band contests to various athletic, literary competitions and academic fora.

One of the academic activities in the celebration pertained to Philosophy Lecture Forum. The affair was held on August 23, 2007 at Silliman University’s Audio-Visual theatre 1. In this intellectual gathering, it was Dr. Eddie R. Babor who was invited by Prof. Jeffrey V. Ocay (an alumnus of Holy Name University) the Chairperson of Silliman University’s Philosophy Department, to be the Guest Speaker. This time the topic is on Bioethics.

Dr. Babor titled his piece “Bioethics: A Blessing or a Curse: Some Philosophical Reflections.” In the programe, it was Prof. Armando Tan who gave the “Opening Prayer,” and the “Welcome Address” was made by Prof. Carlos M. Magtolis, Jr., the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The “Introduction of the Speaker” was done by Prof. Jeffrey Ocay himself while Dr. Reynaldo Rivera, the university’s Director of School of Public Affairs and Governance made the “Closing Remarks.” And it was Prof. Emmanuel Dispo who functioned as the “Master of Ceremony.”

The lecture of Dr. Babor was also graced by Dr. Earl Jude Cleope, the university’s Director of Instruction, Dr. de la Rama, the Dean of the College of Education, and Prof. Dave Marcial (also an alumnus of Holy Name Universtiy), the Dean of the College of Computer Studies.

In his talk, Dr. Babor made it clear that there are a lot of issues in bioethics that refuse to yield to some universally accepted criteria for them to be assessed either as a blessing or as a curse.

Dr. Babor argued further that because generally there are two seemingly opposing camps that nourish the bloodlife of bioethics, namely, the secular and the religious, it is really hard to conclude that this or that particular issue in bioethics can be settled universally specifically on issues like the origin of human life, its maintenance that may open its doors to cloning, genetic engineering, stem cell manipulation, among others, and the issues on the termination of life that entails suicide, euthanasia, abortion, murder, and death – with all its varied hard-to-resolve problems like brain death, brainstem death, clinical death, legal death, among others.

Fairly enough, the paper of Dr. Babor presented the arguments of both the religious and the secular bioethicists. In the former, he vigorously shared the views of Dr. John Haas, the current President of the Catholic Bioethics Center along with the views of Dr. Leon Kaas, a Chicago University based bioethicist. In the secular perspective, he generously presented the Principlism of Dr. Tom Beauchamp and Dr. James Childress along with the Casuistry of Dr. Albert Jonsen and the Communitarianism of Daniel Callahan. In the case of termination of life issue, he discussed the controversial cases of Nancy Kurzan, Karen Quilan, Terri Schiavo, and that of the Canadian landmark case, i.e. Millete vs. Shulman.

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