Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2018


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Health Care Ethics


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Gerard Magill

Committee Member

Henk ten Have

Committee Member

Joris Gielen


Orthodox Christianity; Eastern Orthodoxy; Bioethics; Gratitude; Compassion; Solidarity


In a pluralistic world, reaching consensus in matters of bioethics has proved to be difficult, especially with the political polarization that nurtures inimical differences. This dissertation argues that a middle ground can be identified between the plurality of value systems in contemporary bioethics based on an anthropological approach. This middle ground that reflects commonalities of the human condition can be explored in relation to the foundational principles of Orthodox Christian anthropology. To identify this middle ground the analysis discusses the core relation between hospitality, dignity, and vulnerability as a contribution to global bioethics.

In general, based on Orthodox Christian theology and hermeneutics, an anthropocentric approach to bioethics is presented to identify a middle ground among various value systems. More specifically, in the context of medical practice, healthcare workers and patients meet as ultimate strangers; thus, hospitality (philoxenia: the love of the stranger) is the core value to bridge the gap that separates them. Hospitable medical practice can be a constructive answer to the human anguish especially at the end of life, because hospitality, as defined in Orthodoxy, takes seriously the dignity and vulnerability of all human beings.

This dissertation explains the hermeneutical apparatus derived from Orthodox Christian theology (chapter 2) to unfold the dimensions of the human condition within the contemporary pluralistic and global context of bioethics (chapter 3). The relationship between hospitality, dignity and vulnerability in Orthodox hermeneutics derives from the triadic Christological mission of priesthood, kinghood and prophecy. To reveal this relationship within an authentic Orthodox Christian bioethics, the meaning of human dignity (chapter 4) and human vulnerability (chapter 5) will be explored at the theoretical/theological level and at the applicable global levels. In the final chapter (chapter 6), the relation of dignity and vulnerability to hospitality (philoxenia) will be illustrated with end of life care.