The Contingent Nature of Life

Bioethics and Limits of Human Existence

  • Marcus Düwell
  • Christoph Rehmann-Sutter
  • Dietmar Mieth

Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 39)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-4
  2. Contingency of Life and the Ethical

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 5-5
    2. Ludwig Siep
      Pages 7-15
    3. Ahmet Hadi Adanali
      Pages 17-24
    4. Christoph Rehmann-Sutter
      Pages 37-52
    5. Dietmar Mieth
      Pages 53-67
  3. Ethical Theories and the Limits of Life Sciences

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 69-69
    2. Bernard Baertschi
      Pages 89-96
    3. Matthias Kettner
      Pages 97-108
    4. Norbert Campagna
      Pages 109-117
    5. Marcus Düwell
      Pages 119-130
    6. Albert W. Musschenga
      Pages 131-146
    7. Theo van Willigenburg
      Pages 147-156
  4. Cases of Limits

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 157-157
    2. Daniel Callahan
      Pages 159-167
    3. Hille Haker
      Pages 191-208
    4. Sheila A.M. McLean
      Pages 209-219
    5. Michiel Korthals
      Pages 221-232
  5. Abilities and Disabilities

  6. Others’ Views: Intercultural Perspectives

About this book


Life and nature are imperfect, uncontrollable, and largely (and perhaps permanently) unknowable, that is to say: contingent. The contingency of life is a significant challenge for medicine and technology. Life sciences seem to broaden the possibilities of control to an extent that the contingency of life and nature is no longer self-evident. This very broad statement raises a lot of serious questions. Is it a valid diagnosis? Are the life sciences really defying the contingency of our existence? Or are we simply manipulated by utopian promises? And if contingency is really being challenged, why should we worry about it? Is contingency essential for a meaningful life and way of life? This volume explores the different ways in which the contingency of life, and especially human life, is relevant for ethical discussions and the normative frameworks of bioethics. It explores the relevance of the notion of contingency, and the desire for moral argumentation within bioethics. The authors discuss these notions from a philosophical perspective, paying special attention to the impact of life sciences on people with disabilities and to intercultural perspectives on bioethical debates. The volume also contributes to a deeper reflection on the basic philosophical assumptions of bioethics.


Philosophical Anthropology Religion bioethics capabilities contingency ethics life sciences morality

Editors and affiliations

  • Marcus Düwell
    • 1
  • Christoph Rehmann-Sutter
    • 2
  • Dietmar Mieth
    • 3
  1. 1.Universiteit UtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Universität BaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.Universität TübingenGermany

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Chemical Manufacturing
Consumer Packaged Goods