Can the Four Principles Help in Genetic Screening Decision-Making?

Health Care Analysis 11 (2):131-140 (2003)
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Although principles, as a framework to resolving moral dilemmas are still debated and seem to be in a philosophical quagmire, there are strong arguments that by specification one can resolve case-specific dilemmas in certain areas of bioethics. When it comes to genetic screening and testing however, the problem at the base is a moral disagreement on higher-order principles—such as the status of the embryo and parental issues. No amount of specification can resolve these issues without a dose of relativism. We explore a possibility of agreement on debatable areas specifically in regard to genetics—such as conferring status to the embryo solely for purposes of preventing genetic selection; but it is difficult to see how this can be incorporated into law without extrapolation to other areas. We conclude therefore that the four-principles approach, albeit valuable for expounding opposing views and discussing issues, cannot either alone or by specification, help resolve issues of genetic screening and testing without agreeing on higher order principle. This does not seem to be a possibility in the near future



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Specifying norms as a way to resolve concrete ethical problems.Henry S. Richardson - 1990 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 19 (4):279-310.
Specifying, balancing, and interpreting bioethical principles.Henry S. Richardson - 2000 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 25 (3):285 – 307.
A Sociological Account of the Growth of Principlism.John H. Evans - 2000 - Hastings Center Report 30 (5):31-39.

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