Comparative Religion and Humanities

Joel Zimbelman

PhD University of Virginia

My interests are in religious and applied social ethics and the religious and intellectual development of the West. Most of my research has focused on issues in biomedical ethics (assisted suicide and euthanasia, allocation of health resources, ethics and public policy in health care) as well as an examination of the moral underpinnings of the attitudes that people hold toward these concerns. But I’m developing more interest in comparative religious ethics across various traditions, and find discussions of sexual ethics, environmental ethics and sustainability, war and peace, and health and healing in those traditions to be fascinating.


Moral Dilemmas in Community Healthcare: Cases and Commentaries

Most people who teach health care ethics, public policy, law, and business think that case studies can help students understand both the theories they have encountered and the messiness of real moral deliberation and justification. We agree. But in the past most case books in bioethics have usually focused on the commentary of one or two types of professionals and a few professional ethicists. Our book tries to change this in some significant ways. The cases in this volume have been posed not only by physicians, but also by nurses, pharmacists, social workers, dieticians, and citizens and take place in rural or small-town health care settings (not, for the most part, in large, technologically sophisticated tertiary medical centers). The 20 cases cover a wide range of clinical encounters that focus on dilemmas involving the management of patients who are chronically ill; in extended care facilities and ambulatory care/outpatient settings; who have a limited choice of providers or institutions; and whose cultural and religious tenets are typically underrepresented in the extant health care setting and larger community. Analyses by physicians and ethicists are supplemented by those of nurses, social workers, psychological and religious counselors, lawyers, health care administrators, pharmacists, and private citizens. Introductions to each case identify key moral components and pose study questions to help students think through these issues.

Portrait of Joel Zimbelman