•  52
    The Incoherence of Gender as a Social Construct
    Ethics and Medics 45 (4): 1-2. 2020.
    People can certainly attempt to create new words, convince others that certain words have taken on new meanings, or advocate that new meanings should supplant the older, more common ones. However, the introduction of a new definition does not invalidate a word’s older meaning. Today, many have begun using the word gender in a novel way because they claim that gender is a social construct. This article questions the coherence of that usage with other popularly accepted views about the reality of …Read more
  •  62
    Just fifteen years ago, the common non-religious consensus was that homosexual acts were immoral. Within one decade, however, this consensus waned. The secular majority no longer held, as they previously did, that such actions are morally bad. What explains this sudden change? One explanation is that many conservatives lacked adequate philosophical tools to explain the foundations of the earlier historical consensus. Another is that modern research has shown that there never existed any solid …Read more
  •  188
    Would Aquinas Support Homosexual Activity If He Were Alive Today?
    Heythrop Journal 61 (2): 275-284. 2020.
    The Heythrop Journal, EarlyView. For the longest time, it has been generally held and widely acknowledged that Thomas Aquinas thought homosexual activity to be morally wrong. In recent years, this common interpretation has come under challenge by none other than the President of the Leonine Commission, the Dominican Adriano Oliva. In a recent book, Loves: The Church, the Remarried Divorced, and Homosexual Couples (in French Amours: L’Église, les divorcés remariés, les couples homosexuels), Ol…Read more
  •  20
    In a recent article (2017), Alan Vincelette attempts to defend the Grotian definition of lying. In much of the article he argues when it is licit to tell a formal falsehood. This focus, however, is a mistake. In particular, Vincelette conflates two distinct questions: a) is lying ever morally permissible?, and b) is the Grotian definition of lying an adequate definition? Much of Vincelette‘s response to my earlier criticisms (Skalko 2015) of the Grotian definition focuses on (a), but neglects (b…Read more
  •  47
    Bioethics and Moral Agency: On Autonomy and Moral Responsibility
    with Mark J. Cherry
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (5): 435-443. 2016.
    Two clusters of essays in this issue of The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy provide a critical gaze through which to explore central moral, phenomenological, ontological, and political concerns regarding human moral agency and personal responsibility. The first cluster challenges common assumptions in bioethics regarding the voluntariness of human actions. The second set turns the debate towards morally responsible choice within the requirements of distributive justice. The force of their col…Read more
  •  41
    If Food and Water Are Proportionate Means, Why Not Oxygen?
    The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13 (3): 453-468. 2013.
    Providing food and water, even by tube, is in principle an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made that clear in its August 1, 2007 statement on the matter. However, a pressing question remains: What about oxygen? Food and water are necessary for life. Is not oxygen equally necessary? So why did the CDF not also declare the use of a mechanical ventilator to be in principle an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life? Con…Read more
  •  63
    Catholics and Hugo Grotius’s Definition of Lying
    Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 89 159-179. 2015.
    Among Catholic philosophers, Saint Augustine was the first boldly to propose and defend the absolute view that all lies are wrong. Under no circumstances can a lie be licit. This absolute view held sway among Catholics until the sixteenth century with the introduction of the doctrine of mental reservation. In the seventeenth century, Hugo Grotius introduced another way to uphold the absolute view by changing the definition of lying: If the right of another is not violated, then there is no lie. …Read more
  •  108
    Why Did Aquinas Hold That Killing is Sometimes Just, But Never Lying?
    Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 90 227-241. 2016.
    Aquinas held that lying is always a sin, an evil action. In later terminology it falls under what would be called an intrinsically evil action. Under no circumstances can it be a good action. Following Augustine, Aquinas held that even if others must die, one must still never tell a lie. Yet when it comes to self-defense and capital punishment Aquinas’s reasoning seems at odds with itself. One may kill a man in self-defense. Similarly, just as a diseased limb may be cut off for the sake of the g…Read more