Original Research

Exploring Interdisciplinarity: a theoretical consideration of Bioethics at the interface between Theology, Philosophy and Life Sciences

Leentie de Lange
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 5, No 2 | a135 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v5i2.135 | © 2009 Leentie de Lange | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 March 2016 | Published: 04 April 2009

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Leentie de Lange, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Theology at the North-West University, South Africa

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Complex ethical problems resulting from research and advances in biotechnologies increasingly confront Christian ministers and theologians with difficult and complex moral dilemmas. Where do they turn to in order to give guidance and answer questions concerning practical bioethical problems? This article argues that Bioethics as the systematic study of specific moral dilemmas implies conjoining a variety of ethical methodologies in an interdisciplinary framework. In trying to clarify this complex nature of Bioethics when practiced specifically from a Christian Theological viewpoint, the article examines theoretical considerations regarding the interface between three contributing disciplines, viz. Theology, Philosophy and Life Sciences. This is done by investigating three questions: What is the place of Bioethics in the hierarchy of disciplines? In what way do Philosophy, Theology, and Life Sciences contribute to the theoretical foundations of interdisciplinary Bioethics?, and How do different methodologies relate to one another in order to show the true interdisciplinary character of Bioethics? The article concludes that it is vital to re-examine the theoretical basis of Bioethics as a philosophical grounding or methodology in order to place moral knowledge within a meta-theoretical and epistemological framework. It is clear that Bioethics is a complex endeavour served by many disciplines, as well as a complex interdisciplinary form of knowledge. Scholars, scientists and theologians must all learn to transcend the barriers between the multitude of interrogational disciplines and endeavour to work towards designing a well- founded and meaningful framework within which the methodological assumptions and theoretical grounding have been clarified, and one which also recognizes the complex interdisciplinary nature of Bioethics.


Bioethics; Interdisciplinarity; Theology; Philosophy; Life Sciences; Hierarchy; Ethics; Methodology


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Crossref Citations

1. Disciplining Bioethics: Towards a Standard of Methodological Rigor in Bioethics Research
Daniel Adler, Randi Zlotnik Shaul
Accountability in Research  vol: 19  issue: 3  first page: 187  year: 2012  
doi: 10.1080/08989621.2012.692971