Eve and the Serpent: A Rational Choice to Err

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Dekker, Sidney WA
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2007
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Abstract

In dealing with inexplicable disaster, like the untimely death of a child in a hospital, we increasingly turn to the justice system for accountability and retribution. While seemingly sensible, criminalizing human error has a range of negative consequences. But it does offer "good" narratives of failure as the result of human fault-even at the cost of guilt. Such narratives allow us to pinpoint a cause: people made a rational choice to err and should be punished. This allows us to imagine ourselves in control over random, meaningless events. This paper traces Judeo-Christian roots of such regulative ideals in Western moral thinking, by examining the Genesis account of Eve and the Serpent, and St. Augustine's interpretation of it.

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Journal of Religion and Health

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46

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4

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Medical ethics

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