Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (4-5):471-503 (2020)

In the seventh and most recent edition of their classic book, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, Tom Beauchamp and James Childress define a virtue as a character trait that is “socially valuable and reliably present” and a moral virtue as such a trait that is also both “dispositional” and “morally valuable”. The virtues that they single out as “focal” within biomedical ethics are compassion, discernment, trustworthiness, integrity, and conscientiousness. Not all is well in their treatment of virtue. Beauchamp and Childress seem to worry that an ethical theory in which virtues are fundamental will neglect duties, rights, and societal needs. Further, they insist that there is no reason to think that, within ethical theory, one family of ethical concepts is the most important, nor that one theoretical approach is correct, or even superior to others. I will try to show, that there are strong reasons to see language, concepts, and matters of virtue as fundamental within normative ethical theory, both generally and in such specialized subareas as medical ethics. These reasons reveal themselves when we analyze concepts at the core of the alternative approaches to theorizing ethics that Beauchamp and Childress identify.
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DOI 10.1093/jmp/jhaa013
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References found in this work BETA

Virtue, Vice and Value.Thomas Hurka - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208):413-415.
Specifying Norms as a Way to Resolve Concrete Ethical Problems.Henry S. Richardson - 1990 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 19 (4):279-310.
Normativity.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 2007 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 2:240-266.

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Citations of this work BETA

Response to Commentaries.Tom L. Beauchamp & James F. Childress - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (4-5):560-579.
Do Fetuses Have the Same Interests as Their Mothers?Helen Watt - 2022 - In Nicholas Colgrove, Bruce P. Blackshaw & Daniel Rodger (eds.), Agency, Pregnancy and Persons. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 105-123.
Bioethicist as Partisan Ideologue.Mark J. Cherry - 2021 - American Journal of Bioethics 21 (6):22-25.
Considerations of Conscience.Bryan Pilkington - 2021 - HEC Forum 33 (3):165-174.

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