Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

"Ripeness is all"

In "Living Life’s End," Gilbert Meilaender considers the principles and particulars with end-of-life care as he aims
"to think through a few of those puzzles—not so much to solve them as simply to seek increased clarity about where and why we are puzzled." He notes that "To the degree that [he has] a thesis to assert, it is captured in the words of Edgar in King Lear: ’Men must endure / Their going hence, even as their coming hither; / Ripeness is all.’"

For those wrestling with the recent happenings in Florida and how we might think about such issues, Meilaender offers a clear, reflective, and balanced analysis of our moral obligations as he recognizes:

We come to our deliberations about end-of-life care with some principles in hand, but we also form judgments about particular cases. There are bound to be instances in which our principles suggest one course of action, while our sense of the particulars of the case inclines us in a different direction. In such instances neither the principles nor our response to the particulars always holds trump in moral reasoning. To be sure, some principles we would be reluctant to change: they are so fundamental to everything we believe that changing them would be akin to a conversion. Likewise, there are some cases about which we can hardly imagine changing our mind. But our deliberations always move back and forth between principle and particular response, and adjustment can take place on either pole.

A long, but quality read available in First Things.


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