Details of Thesis

Title The Relational Person Within a Practical Theology of Health Care
Author McArdle, Patrick
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2006
Abstract Aim: The aim of this thesis is to elaborate a theological understanding of health care at its most vulnerable point: the meaning and exercise of personhood itself. Personhood, as I develop the concept, is understood in relational terms. Through this exploration of the relational dimensions of the human person, I provide a conceptual framework in which health care is able to derive fresh vigour and inspiration. This approach accomplishes two things: it establishes a role for theological insights in the public discourse of health care; secondly, it demonstrates that theology is able to assist health care to better understand itself and renew itself. As an exercise in Practical Theology, the investigation is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on insights from philosophy, health care and various dimensions of theology. Scope: Historically, the focus of theologically motivated contributions to health and medicine has been on ethical dilemmas that arise in clinical practice. In this thesis, however, the focus is on bringing theology and health care into dialogue in order to advance the conversation between the two disciplines. The thesis, therefore, has three elements that determine its scope. Firstly, advancing the place of the human person in health care theory and practice: hence, this thesis is an exercise in practical theology. Secondly, situating theology in a field of engagement with wider contemporary culture—especially the culture of health care—in a genuinely interdisciplinary manner. Thirdly, critiquing current theory and practice in health care, and reinvigorating the central meanings and values that inform and motivate health care. Conclusions: There are five substantial conclusions deriving from the research and argument of this thesis: Firstly, and the basis for other conclusions, the theology developed in the thesis argues that a relational model of the human person is indispensable to contemporary health care. Secondly, while relational personhood is not a panacea for all the dilemmas posed by modern health care, thinking about personhood in relational terms opens the possibility of a dialogical approach to ethical dilemmas in health care. Thirdly, relational personhood represents a fundamental shift in the discourse of health care and of theology. Fourthly, a focus on relationships inspires a priority for the vulnerable and gives rise to an ethic of responsibility. Fifthly, a practical theology of relational personhood can bring about a rapprochement between religious concerns and health care.As I note in the conclusion to the thesis: “These are not dramatic claims but they do have the capacity to transform both disciplines and to enable them to more adequately meet their own goals.”
Thesis 01front.pdf  24KB
02whole.pdf 877KB

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