1st Edition

Kierkegaard and Bioethics

Edited By Johann-Christian Põder Copyright 2023

    This book explores Kierkegaard’s significance for bioethics and discusses how Kierkegaard’s existential thinking can enrich and advance current bioethical debates.

    A bioethics inspired by Kierkegaard is not focused primarily on ethical codes, principles, or cases, but on the existential 'how' of our medical situation. Such a perspective focuses on the formative ethical experiences that an individual can have in relation to oneself and others when dealing with medical decisions, interventions, and information. The chapters in this volume explore questions like: What happens when medicine and bioethics meet Kierkegaard? How might Kierkegaard’s writings and thoughts contribute to contemporary issues in medicine? Do we need an existential turn in bioethics? They offer theoretical reflections on how Kierkegaard’s existential thinking might contribute to bioethics and apply Kierkegaardian concepts to debates on health and disease, predictive medicine and enhancement, mental illness and trauma, COVID-19, and gender identity.

    Kierkegaard and Bioethics will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working on Kierkegaard, bioethics, moral philosophy, existential ethics, religious ethics, and the medical humanities.

    Introduction: Kierkegaard and Bioethics Johann-Christian Põder

    Part 1: Existential Framing of Bioethics

    1. Bioethics in the Spirit of Kierkegaard Vilhjálmur Árnason

    2. Anxiety, Hope, and the Life Sciences: Towards an Anthropological Foundation of Bioethics Marcus Düwell

    Part 2: Concepts of Health, Disease, and Disability

    3. Kierkegaard’s Conception of Health and Sickness and the Idea of Diagnostic Anthropology Jakub Marek

    4. Being a ‘Justified Exception’: Kierkegaard on Mental and Bodily Dispositions Jonas Hodel

    Part 3: Today’s Medical Developments: Prediction and Enhancement

    5. Kierkegaard and the Ethics of Predictive Medicine Henning Nörenberg and Johann-Christian Põder 

    6. Humankind and Biotechnology. Habermas, Kierkegaard, and a Religious Perspective on Enhancement Hermann Diebel-Fischer

    Part 4: Psychiatry and Trauma Studies

    7. Kierkegaard’s Ethics of Suffering and the Biomedical Challenge of Autonomy René Rosfort

    8. Becoming through Rupture: Kierkegaardian Reflection on Contemporary Trauma Discourse Anna Westin    

    Part 5: Current Debates in Bioethics: COVID-19, Gender Identity

    9. Existential Ethics and Public Policy: On the Value of Life, Just Cause, and Moral Demand Mélissa Fox-Muraton

    10. Kierkegaard, Gender Identity, and Bioethics: How to Receive the Other Oliver Norman


    Johann-Christian Põder is a Junior Professor of Ethics at the University of Rostock, Germany. He is the co-editor, with John-Stewart Gordon and Holger Burckhart, of Human Rights and Disability: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Routledge, 2017).