The Ground of Dialogical Bioethics

Health Care Analysis 10 (4):391-402 (2002)
Dialogical ethics are a procedural alternative to substantive ethics such as consequentialism, deontology, principlism, casuistry, virtue ethics and care ethics. Dialogical ethics are procedural in that they do not establish goods in advance, unlike substantive ethics, but rather determine goods through a procedure enacted by the actual parties involved (although some substantive notion of justice may still be required); and they are dialogical in that the procedure is that of dialogue, involving both empathic critical discussion and negotiation. A fundamental tenet of dialogical ethics may be the use of appropriate rules of order regulating dialogue among the parties involved. Some of the central characteristics of such rules of order are that they are reciprocally regulated by dialogue, that they override other ethical considerations, and that they institute empathic critical discussion and negotiation within the ethical dialogue. Dialogical bioethics are the application of dialogical ethics to ethical problems in medicine. The approach of dialogical bioethics has proven fruitful for resolving bioethical problems such as that of medical futility, where approaches of substantive ethics have reached an impasse. There is room for further study of special challenges within dialogical bioethics, such as the incompetence of some involved parties, conflicts of interests of third parties, and the cost-effectiveness of this ethical approach
Keywords dialogical (bio)ethics  procedural ethics  rules of order  substantive ethics
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DOI 10.1023/A:1023431310918
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