Looking to learn more about the intersection of bioethics, moral reasoning, and political philosophy, the Maguire Ethics Center along with other participants from SMU, Houston Methodist Hospital, and SMU’s Perkins School of Theology convened the interdisciplinary research cluster and reading group, “Healthcare and Human Flourishing.” Funded in part by the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, the research cluster met for the first time on October 13.
“The Maguire Center is ideally positioned to serve as the institutional home of this joint research – both as a clearinghouse for communications between the research partners and as a funder of ongoing research activities,” Maguire Ethics Center Endowed Director Dr. Rita Kirk said. “This research cluster also serves the SMU’s research mission by integrating us into a research hospital, thus expanding our research portfolio into the medical humanities.”
The immediate work of the cluster consists of convening a reading/response group around Oxford professor Joshua Hordern’s recent book Compassion in Healthcare: Pilgrimage, Practice, and Civic Life. The group will invite Hordern to SMU this spring to meet with researchers and give a public lecture.
In each meeting, at least one member of the research group gives a written response to Hordern’s work, which will prepare participants for conversations with him in the spring. For the first meeting, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics emeritus Dr. Robin Lovin delivered the first written response.
Leading a roundtable discussion, Dr. Lovin focused on “how moral traditions enter into decision making in public institutional contexts and about what happens both to those traditions and to the institutions in the process.”
“To think of ethics in terms of human flourishing requires us to consider the interactions between the different circles of responsibility in which our lives are lived and to appreciate the diversity of the individual and national narratives that result.”
“Joshua Hordern does not provide us with explicit answers to all of our questions,” Dr. Lovin writes. “But he offers us an account of politics and society within which we can explore them. Most important, he does not separate personal, professional, social, and political questions into neat compartments, each governed by its own theory. To think of ethics in terms of human flourishing requires us to consider the interactions between the different circles of responsibility in which our lives are lived and to appreciate the diversity of the individual and national narratives that result.”
The cluster will convene again November 16 where another member of the cluster (TBD) will deliver a paper on Chapter 4 of the book which focuses on compassion in civic life.
 Lovin R. (2022). Human Flourishing in Healthcare and Politics. Paper presented to the Healthcare and Human Flourishing research cluster at SMU.