The Harm Principle Cannot Replace the Best Interest Standard: Problems With Using the Harm Principle for Medical Decision Making for Children

American Journal of Bioethics 18 (8):9-19 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


For many years the prevailing paradigm for medical decision making for children has been the best interest standard. Recently, some authors have proposed that Mill’s “harm principle” should be used to mediate or to replace the best interest standard. This article critically examines the harm principle movement and identifies serious defects within the project of using Mill’s harm principle for medical decision making for children. While the harm principle proponents successfully highlight some difficulties in present-day use of the best interest standard, the use of the harm principle suffers substantial normative and conceptual problems. A medical decision-making framework for children is suggested, grounded in the four principles. It draws on the best interest standard, incorporates concepts of harm, and provides two questions that can act as guide and limit in medical decision making for children.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,931

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The harm principle.Nils Holtug - 2002 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (4):357-389.
The precautionary principle and medical decision making.David B. Resnik - 2004 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (3):281 – 299.
Mill's Harm Principle as Social Justice.Huodong Li - 2004 - Dissertation, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
The Ethical Action Principle in Decision-Making.Kumiko Yoshitake - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 5:75-83.
Harm principles.James Edwards - 2014 - Legal Theory 20 (4):253-285.
The harm principle and genetically modified food.Nils Holtug - 2001 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 14 (2):168-178.
Harm to Others. [REVIEW]Martin P. Golding - 1987 - Philosophical Review 96 (2):295-298.


Added to PP

83 (#206,966)

6 months
17 (#161,721)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?