David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 17 (5):487-510 (1992)
Several scholars have recently criticized the dominant emphasis upon mid-level principles in bioethics best exemplified by Beauchamp and Childress's Principles of Biomedical Ethics . In Part I of this essay, I assess the fairness and cogency of three broad criticisms raised against ‘principlism’ as an approach: (1) that principlism, as an exercise in applied ethics, is insufficiently attentive to the dialectical relations between ethical theory and moral practice; (2) that principlism fails to offer a systematic account of the principles of nonmaleficence, beneficence, respect for autonomy, and justice; and (3) that principlism, as a version of moral pluralism, is fatally flawed by its theoretical agnosticism. While acknowledging that Beauchamp and Childress's reliance upon Ross's version of intuitionism is problematic, I conclude that the critics of principlism have failed to make a compelling case against its theoretical or practical adequacy as an ethical approach. In Part II, I assess the moral theory developed by Bernard Gert in Morality: A New Justification of the Moral Rules , because Gert has recommended his approach as a systematic alternative to principlism. I judge Gert's theory to be seriously incomplete and, in contrast to principlism, unable to generate coherent conclusions about cases of active euthanasia and paternalism. Keywords: active euthanasia, applied ethics, Beauchamp and Childress, intuitionism, paternalism, principlism, W.D. Ross CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
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Christopher Meyers (2003). Appreciating W. D. Ross:On Duties and Consequences. Journal of Mass Media Ethics 18 (2):81 – 97.
George J. Agich (2005). What Kind of Doing is Clinical Ethics? Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 26 (1):7-24.
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Wendy Lipworth & Miles Little (2014). Deriving and Critiquing an Empirically Based Framework for Pharmaceutical Ethics. Ajob Empirical Bioethics 5 (1):23-32.
Susan Frances Jones & Anthony S. Kessel (2001). The 'Redefinition of Death' Debate: Western Concepts and Western Bioethics. Science and Engineering Ethics 7 (1):63-75.
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