Philosophy Faculty Publications

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Source

Meaning and Medicine: A Reader in the Philosophy of Health Care


Book abstract: A chief aim of this resource is to rekindle interest in seeing health care not solely as a set of practices so problematic as to require ethical analysis by philosophers and other scholars, but as a field whose scrutiny is richly rewarding for the traditional concerns of philosophy.

Chapter abstract: The health-related choices made by Christian Scientists are often criticized as being irrational. It is difficult for those who turn to medical means for healing to understand how Christian Scientists can rationally justify avoiding those medical treatments known to be effective. What is especially confusing to the observer of such chokes is that Christian Scientists are, for the most part, well-educated and otherwise rational individuals. In this paper, I analyze the nature of the choices made by Christian Scientists and argue that such choices are neither irrational nor the result of unethical church practices.

Margaret Battin has recently published a book on the ethical implications of certain religious practices which includes a critique of those religious organizations whose adherents appear to take health risks and to make health-related choices which non-adherents would not take or make. In a chapter devoted to the ethics of the practices found within “high-risk” religions, Battin argues that Christian Science institutional practices result in a Christian Scientist’s inability to make an autonomous and informed rational choice when faced with a life-threatening illness or injury. In this chapter, I respond to Battin’s criticism of Christian Science.

Inclusive pages





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Place of Publication

New York, NY