The Common Harm in Bioethics and Public Health


Catholic ethical teaching has increasingly relied on a concept of the common good for making and evaluating social decisions. The authors have argued that the common good is a maximal and ideal concept about which people and communities differ fundamentally. In practice, it does not resolve moral and social disagreements. The concept of the common harm is preferable because it is a minimal standard that can be more clearly identified and agreed for individuals and society, providing a basis for legislative and social action. Bioethics and public health both have strong roots in doing no harm and preventing harm to both individuals and communities in society. The authors argue that the application of the concept of the common harm from these disciplines into wider use in the health professions and public policy would be beneficial. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 14.3 : 449–455.

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Katie Wasson
University of Waikato

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