Volume 11, 2001
Social and Political Philosophy
Sirkku Kristiina Hellsten
Communitarianism and Western Thought
Within the Western tradition we can find important and interesting philosophical differences between the continental European and the Anglo-American ethical and political outlooks towards biotechnology. The Anglo-American attitude appears based on naturalistic and empiricist views, while continental European viewpoints are built on idealistic liberal humanism. A Northern European view integrates both of the above-mentioned liberal traditions. The main problem is that although these different outlooks can be said to be liberal in their common promotion of equality, autonomy, and individual rights, they still tend to conflict. I purpose to explicate the main differences of these liberalisms and to analyze how they affect the ethical views towards biotechnology in the Western world. Secondly, I will search for the shared values involved in these approaches in order to find common ground for open discussion on the ethical problems involved in biotechnological development.