Beauchamp and childress 2008 ethical principles

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beauchamp and childress 2008 ethical principles

Principles of Biomedical Ethics by Tom L. Beauchamp

This edition represents a thorough-going revision of what has become a classic text in biomedical ethics. Major structural changes mark the revision. The authors have added a new concluding chapter on methods that, along with its companion chapter on moral theory, emphasizes convergence across theories, coherence in moral justification, and the common morality. They have simplified the opening chapter on moral norms which introduces the framework of prima facie moral principles and ways to specify and balance them. Together with the shift of advanced material on theory to the back of the book, this heavily revised introductory chapter will make it easier for the wide range of students entering bioethics courses to use this text. Another important change is the increased emphasis on character and moral agency, drawing the distinction between agents and actions. The sections on truth telling, disclosure of bad news, privacy, conflicts of interest, and research on human subjects have also been thoroughly reworked. The four core chapters on principles (respect for autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice) and the chapter on professional-patient relationships retain their familiar structure, but the authors have completely updated their content to reflect developments in philosophical analysis as well as in research, medicine, and health care. Throughout, they have used a number of actual cases to illuminate and to test their theory, method, and framework of principles.
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Beauchamp and Childress' Four Principles of Biomedical Ethics


The four principles of Beauchamp and Childress - autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice - have been extremely influential in the field of medical ethics, and are fundamental for understanding the current approach to ethical assessment in health care. This study tests whether these principles can be quantitatively measured on an individual level, and then subsequently if they are used in the decision making process when individuals are faced with ethical dilemmas. The Analytic Hierarchy Process was used as a tool for the measurement of the principles. Four scenarios, which involved conflicts between the medical ethical principles, were presented to participants who then made judgments about the ethicality of the action in the scenario, and their intentions to act in the same manner if they were in the situation. Individual preferences for these medical ethical principles can be measured using the Analytic Hierarchy Process. This technique provides a useful tool in which to highlight individual medical ethical values.

Bioethics of principles has become a paradigm of moral evaluation in clinical practice. This model is based on four principles autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice , as defined by Beauchamp and Childress almost 40 years ago. The four principles try to facilitate decision-making in a universal context. However, this objective generates a series of questions that deeply affect the ethical practice of medicine and the moral theory. Therefore, a critical analysis of the bioethical principles, its theoretical foundation and its application, in view of the results in recent decades, is needed. For decades, clinical bioethics has tried to offer solutions to the ethical problems that arise in the doctor-patient relationship. There is no doubt that, among all these proposals, the most successful and generally accepted is the principlist or principled bioethics model principlism.

Medical ethics is a system of moral principles that apply values to the practice of clinical medicine and in scientific research. Medical ethics is based on a set of values that professionals can refer to in the case of any confusion or conflict. These values include the respect for autonomy , non-maleficence, beneficence , and justice. There are several codes of conduct. The Hippocratic Oath discusses basic principles for medical professionals.

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These are its four principles:. These principles are often in tension with one another, but all healthcare workers and researchers need to factor each into their reflections on what to do in a situation. We are responsible for what we do and ultimately any action we take is the product of our own choice. Recognising this basic freedom at the heart of humanity is a starting point for Beauchamp and Childress. Beauchamp and Childress were writing at a time when the expertise of doctors meant they often took extreme measures in doing what they had decided was in the best interests of their patient. This went as far as performing involuntary sterilisations.

The basic principles state prima facie or non-absolute moral obligations that are rendered practical by being specified for particular contexts. Moral problems arise when principles or their specifications come into conflict with each other. The conflicts are resolved by further specification or balancing judgments. Principlism justifies moral reasoning by appealing to the method of reflective equilibrium and to the common morality. Principlism is committed to a global bioethics because the principles are universally applicable, not merely local, customary, or cultural rules. They are correlative to basic human rights and set limits to what is ethically acceptable in all societies, but they are also sensitive to particular conditions in societies and cultures that may account for legitimate differences in the ethics of medical research and practice.


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