Erica Laethem - The Integritas Institute for Ethics

Erica Laethem, BeL, PhD(c)
• Some thoughts on professional vocations of women
• Principles of cooperation
• Concept of vocation
• From Latin vocare = to call
• Aspects
• State in life
• Professional vocation
• A vocation is a calling from God to a particular type of service.
Edith Stein / St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891 –1942)
Philosopher, convert, Carmelite, martyr
• Essay “Feminine Vocations”
• Care of humanity and human life entrusted to women
• Sees medical profession as a “rich area of genuine feminine
activity” and a calling for some women, therefore remove barriers
Stein, Edith. “Feminine vocations.” ----. Quotidiana. Ed. Patrick Madden. 2 Mar 2007.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922 – 1962)
Wife, mother, physician
“Everyone works in the service of man. We
Blessed Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)
Pope, philosopher
1988: On the Dignity and Vocation of Women
• God entrusts the human being to woman in a
particular way
• Asks women to be “a prophetic voice” to call
the world back to “the primacy of love”
1995: Letter to Women and audiences
• Three waves:
• First wave (Mid-1800s): Suffrage, property rights, admittance to higher
• Second wave (1920s and 1930s): Education and employment
• Third wave (1960s and 1970s): Much of the same as before w/ radical
movement focuses on “sexual liberation”
• Fourth wave?
• Rejects biological determinism (“biology is destiny”) and pure
social construction of nature
• Sees the person as relational and men and women as equal
and complementary
• Promotes the “the feminine genius”
• Sees fulfillment of the person in love
• Sees all called to “parenthood”
• Spiritual or spiritual/physical
• Some practical implications
Cooperation in the ethically significant sense is defined as the
participation of one moral agent (the cooperator) in the activity
of another moral agent (the principal agent) to produce a
particular effect or joint activity. Cooperation becomes ethically
problematic when the action of the primary agent is judged to be
Russell Smith, “Principles of Cooperation,” p. 220, and Russell Smith, “Ethical Quandary,” p. 112.
Think This
Not This
• Context
• Historical reality
• Individual  Organizational
• Part of Catholic ethics for over 400 years; guides whether and
how someone may be present to the wrongdoing of another
• Modes of presence
Providing services (e.g. staffing, supplies, billing, prescriptions)
Financial benefit
• Formal Cooperation: intending, desiring or approving the
wrongdoing (intention)
• Can be explicit or implicit
 Always morally wrong
• Material Cooperation: participating in the wrongdoing or
providing conditions for the wrongdoing to occur (action)
• Can be immediate ( always wrong) or mediate ( sometimes ok)
• Mediate material cooperation can be proximate or remote
( greater the wrongdoing, the stronger must be reason to cooperate)
Mediate material cooperation must derive from some “serious
reason” or “moral necessity.” There must be a proportionately
serious reason for cooperation (for the sake of protecting an
important good or to avoid a worse harm.)
Cf. Russell E. Smith, “The Principles of Cooperation and their Application to the Present State of Health Care Evolution,” in The
Splendor of Truth and Health Care: Proceedings of the Fourteenth Workshop for Bishops Dallas, Texas, Russell E. Smith, ed. (Braintree,
Massachusetts: The Pope John XXIII Medical-Moral Research and Education Center, 1995), p. 225 and Russell E. Smith, “Ethical
Quandary: Forming Hospital Partnerships,” in The Gospel of Life and the Vision of Health Care: Proceedings of the Fifteenth Workshop
for Bishops Dallas, Texas, Russell E. Smith, ed. (Braintree, Massachusetts: The Pope John XXIII Medical-Moral Research and Education
Center, 1996), p. 113.
• Meeting principles of cooperation ≠ a wise choice
• Scandal =
• “an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil” (CCC 2284)
• A sin against charity
• Matthew 18:6
• Scandal ≠
• Public relations problem
• Offending someone’s overly scrupulous conscience
• Sometimes, it is more prudent to forgo an arrangement due to
scandal, but other times, education can mitigate sufficiently
mitigate it.
Mission should be the starting and
ending points of analysis.
What is my (our) mission?
What are my (our) values?
What good might I (we) be called to do?
• Principles of cooperation advise when and how one can be
present to wrongdoing of another
• Other considerations:
• Proportionate reason
• Scandal
• Mission
• Variation by vocation

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