The separation between the public and the private spheres increasingly tends to disappear. Choices concerning life and death, the body, and sexuality, in fact, are exceed the private domain and seem to require a public agreement, not only in legal but ethical terms as well. The boundaries of ethics are subject to debate due to factors that also impel religions to play a strong cultural leadership role, in that religions supply answers to widespread questions that deal with issues such as truth, the common good, individual versus collective identities. Even non-believers attempt to answer such questions, often using concepts that stem from an outdated, militant secularism and that sacralize the State and make it a source of ethical values. Bioethical issues cannot be addressed solely on the basis of personal autonomy, and secularity needs to be re-thought first and foremost as a moral and political virtue of citizenship rather than as a mere legal feature of constitutions. This implies an exploration of the tradition of tolerance, in its expression as a relationship of mutual respect and equal dignity.
Claudia Mancina teaches Ethics of Rights at "La Sapienza" University in Rome.