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Will the "Secular Priests" of Bioethics Work Among the Sinners?

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In this paper, I explore briefly the "secular priesthood" metaphor often applied to bioethicists. I next ask: if, despite our discomfort with the metaphor, we were to embrace the best aspects of the priesthood(s) - which I identify as the missionaries' willingness to work among sinners and lepers, at their own peril - would we be able to live up to that standard of bravery? I then draw a parallel with the fears of contagion currently be voiced (by Carl Elliott and others), with regard to bioethicists working in or near corporate settings. I argue that such fears may themselves have a number of deleterious effects, and I suggest several possible positive steps in response to that fear.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Publication date: 01 June 2003

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