June 22, 2006 – The Crisis Over the Institution of Marriage and Contemporary Bioethics
Luke Gormally brilliantly sets forth and explains flawed philosophical trains of thought that have widely influenced bioethics while undermining the normative institution of marriage. He cogently argues that while marriage concerns the good of the spouses themselves in that their authentic and total gift of self results in them finding themselves in a sincere giving of themselves, as St. John Paul the Great would remind us, the crisis of contemporary culture requires that we argue for the normative institution of marriage and exclusivity and permanent sexuality within marriage on the basis of the good of children.
Gormaly identifies Rene Descartes as the originator of the idea that the ends of the human person are extrinsic to human nature, that the mechanical operations of the body are not fundamentally united to a rational soul which provides an intrinsic logic for the actualization of the human person. This mechanization of the human person shines forth in the work of Ronald Dworkin and, particularly in the work of Peter Singer, invariably accompanies an exaggerated view of autonomy/freedom which renders the inherent value of the human person dependent upon an exercise of autonomy/freedom, thus separating the biological material of a human being from a “person” able to exercise autonomy. This line of thought results in the tragic conclusion the abortion, reproductive technology, and other objective violations of human dignity are morally non-objecdtionable because they are performed on non-persons.
This article convincingly makes the case that the plight of marriage as an institution is inseparable from a distorted understanding of the human person going back nearly 500 years.