Single-principle versus multi-principles approaches in bioethics

Journal of Applied Philosophy 27 (1):72-83 (2010)
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The so-called Principlism of Beauchamp and Childress is one of the most prominent approaches in bioethics. It has, nevertheless, given rise to an ongoing debate on methodology in bioethics. At the bottom of this debate lies the question whether a multi-principles approach or a single-principle approach is more convincing in bioethics. In this paper I shall propose a 'third way' of bioethical reasoning that is committed neither to a multi-principles nor to a single-principle approach. In contrast, I will take up the Kantian differentiation of formal and material principles. This differentiation permits combining the strengths of multi-principles as well as of single-principle approaches.



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Bert Heinrichs
Universität Bonn

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