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Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 23, Issue 2, Fall 2016

Bioethics

Melissa Burchard
Pages 12-23

Abandoning Certainty in Favor of Moral Imagination
Shifting from Rule-Based Decision Making to Caring

I argue that rule-based decision-making models are desired because thought to create certainty. I then raise a number of problems with this assumption. Desiring certainty, and relying on rules to obtain it, leads to inconsistency in decision-making, and atrophy of moral imagination. I draw a parallel between Dworkin’s principles-based models in legal theory and Beauchamp and Childress’ in medical ethics. These models are more successful because they can account for more moral intuitions, and do not encourage us to hide our intuitions. Still, feminist ethics challenge the possibility of certainty even more radically, moving in the direction of moral imagination and care.

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