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Scott B Rae and Paul M Cox, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Cambridge, UK, Eerdmans, 1999, x + 326 pages, $24.00/£15.99.
In a morally pluralist, or in Alasdair MacIntyre's terms “morally fragmented”, society it seems almost inevitable that people engaging with issues of bioethics should operate within something like John Rawls's idea of an “overlapping consensus”—the area in which there is broad agreement between people with different comprehensive worldviews, and in which they are able and willing to operate with the shared criteria of what Rawls calls “public reason”. There are, of course, those who are uneasy about this approach, usually because they see moral fragmentation as being more pervasive and consensus more difficult to achieve, than the Rawlsians believe. From opposite wings Alasdair MacIntyre and Tristram Engelhardt join forces to question the viability of the liberal consensus.
There are, of course, problems with an overlapping consensus. People with religious convictions often feel that …
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