Bioethical pluralism and complementarity

Frederick Grinnell, Jeffrey P. Bishop, Laurence B. McCullough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


This essay presents complementarity as a novel feature of bioethical pluralism. First introduced by Neils Bohr in conjunction with quantum physics, complementarity in bioethics occurs when different perspectives account for equally important features of a situation but are mutually exclusive. Unlike conventional approaches to bioethical pluralism, which attempt in one fashion or another to isolate and choose between different perspectives, complementarity accepts all perspectives.As a result, complementarity results in a state of holistic, dynamic tension, rather than one that yields singular or final moral judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-349
Number of pages12
JournalPerspectives in Biology and Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • History

Cite this

Grinnell, F., Bishop, J. P., & McCullough, L. B. (2002). Bioethical pluralism and complementarity. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 45(3), 338-349.