Bioethics after Levinas


Bioethics is not a new discipline; nor should it be understood as a mere evolution of medical ethics, or even as simply ethics applied to life. Bioethics seeks to find meaning and justification for old and new practices related to life and living. Alterity, proposed by Levinas, includes the Other in the individual's relationship with the world. The nature of this new relationship is dialogic, leading to mutual commitment and co‚Äźresponsibility. Recognising the Other prevents neutrality and furnishes the opening to the mystery of the relation to the Other. The Other is a singular being, always important and significant. The Other is the one who opens up the possibility of living, of establishing relationships that gives meaning to life. Levinas' thought emphasises acting, praxis, effective action and moment of decision.

Key Concepts

  • Bioethics is a complex, interdisciplinary and shared reflection on the adequacy of actions related to life and living.
  • Levinas' thought raises an important discussion on the issue of the difference between the Same and the Other.
  • Within the framework of Alterity, it is the Other who gives meaning to a person's own existence.
  • In Levinas' thought, acting is a priority, as are praxis, effective action and moment of decision.
  • Including the Other in the perspective of an individual's relationship with the world changes this view.

Keywords: bioethics; ethics; alterity; life; living


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Goldim, José R(Aug 2016) Bioethics after Levinas. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0026694]