The notion of common morality plays a prominent role in some of the most influential theories of biomedical ethics. Here, I focus on Beauchamp and Childress’s models in the fourth and fifth edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics as well as on a revision that Beauchamp proposed in a recent article. Although there are significant differences in these works that require separate analysis, all include a role for common morality as starting point and normative framework for theory construction in combination with a coherence theory of moral justification. I defend to some extent the existence and empirical significance of common morality, as delineated by Beauchamp and Childress in different versions, but criticize its normative role. It is neither convincing as a moral foundation nor well compatible with a standard coherentist justification. I suggest that the authors should give up the foundational account for a more modest account of common morality as resource of well-established moral insights and experiences, which have proved generally valid but neither sufficient nor infallible. Beauchamp’s latest proposal appears as a step in this direction; indeed, it may be the beginning of the end of his common-morality theory.
Keywords Coherence  Common morality  Principlism  Reflective equilibrium
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DOI 10.1007/s11017-008-9061-5
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References found in this work BETA

Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
The Foundations of Bioethics.H. Tristram Engelhardt - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Morality: Its Nature and Justification.Bernard Gert - 1998 - Oxford University Press.
Bioethics: A Systematic Approach.Bernard Gert - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
Common Morality: Deciding What to Do.Bernard Gert - 2004 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Living with Pirates.Rebecca Kukla - 2014 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 23 (1):75-85.
Common Morality and Moral Reform.K. A. Wallace - 2009 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 30 (1):55-68.
On Common Morality as Embodied Practice.Tom L. Beauchamp - 2014 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 23 (1):86-93.
The Ethics of an Ordinary Doctor.William T. Branch - 2014 - Hastings Center Report 44 (1):15-17.
Bioethics Policies and the Compass of Common Morality.Ronald A. Lindsay - 2009 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 30 (1):31-43.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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