Common sense and the common morality in theory and practice.Theor Med Bioeth. 2014 Feb 14;
Authors: Daly P
The unfinished nature of Beauchamp and Childress's account of the common morality after 34 years and seven editions raises questions about what is lacking, specifically in the way they carry out their project, more generally in the presuppositions of the classical liberal tradition on which they rely. Their wide-ranging review of ethical theories has not provided a method by which to move beyond a hypothetical approach to justification or, on a practical level regarding values conflict, beyond a questionable appeal to consensus. My major purpose in this paper is to introduce the thought of Bernard Lonergan as offering a way toward such a methodological breakthrough. In the first section, I consider Beauchamp and Childress's defense of their theory of the common morality. In the second, I relate a persisting vacillation in their argument regarding the relative importance of reason and experience to a similar tension in classical liberal theory. In the third, I consider aspects of Lonergan's generalized empirical method as a way to address problems that surface in the first two sections of the paper: (1) the structural relation of reason and experience in human action; and (2) the importance of theory for practice in terms of what Lonergan calls "common sense" and "general bias."