Principlism’s Balancing Act: Why the Principles of Biomedical Ethics Need a Theory of the Good

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (4-5):441-470 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Principlism, the bioethical theory championed by Tom Beauchamp and James Childress, is centered on the four moral principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, respect for autonomy, and justice. Two key processes related to these principles are specification—adding specific content to general principles—and balancing—determining the relative weight of conflicting principles. I argue that both of these processes necessarily involve an appeal to human goods and evils, and therefore require a theory of the good. A significant problem with principlism is that it lacks a theory of the good and consequently does not have an adequate solution to the problems of specification and balancing. My conclusion is that principlism must adopt some account of human well-being in order to be a satisfactory bioethical framework.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,164

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

What really separates casuistry from principlism in biomedical ethics.Paul Cudney - 2014 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 35 (3):205-229.
Not just autonomy--the principles of American biomedical ethics.S. Holm - 1995 - Journal of Medical Ethics 21 (6):332-338.
The method of 'principlism': A critique of the critique.B. Andrew Lustig - 1992 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 17 (5):487-510.
Forty Years of the Four Principles: Enduring Themes from Beauchamp and Childress.Matthew Shea - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (4-5):387-395.
Balancing Principles in Beauchamp and Childress.Tom Tomlinson - 1998 - The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 4:191-196.
The Limits of Principlism and Recourse to Theory: The Example of Telecare.Tom Sorell - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (4):369-382.
A Critique of Principlism.K. D. Clouser & B. Gert - 1990 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 15 (2):219-236.

Analytics

Added to PP
2020-07-30

Downloads
74 (#214,630)

6 months
22 (#113,149)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Matthew Shea
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Citations of this work

Principlism and Contemporary Ethical Considers in Transgender Health Care.Luke Allen - forthcoming - International Journal of Transgender Health.
Response to Commentaries.Tom L. Beauchamp & James F. Childress - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (4-5):560-579.
Strangers at the Altar.Ana Iltis - 2021 - American Journal of Bioethics 21 (6):19-22.
Bioethicist as Partisan Ideologue.Mark J. Cherry - 2021 - American Journal of Bioethics 21 (6):22-25.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Nicomachean ethics.H. Aristotle & Rackham - 2014 - Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.. Edited by C. D. C. Reeve.
Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
The virtues in medical practice.Edmund D. Pellegrino - 1993 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by David C. Thomasma.

View all 37 references / Add more references