Principlism in Bioethics

Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 70)


The theoretical and practical roles of moral principles in principlist theory is the subject of this chapter. I start by discussing the historical background of the emergence of basic universal principles in bioethics. I then analyze the nature of the moral commitments in the universal framework of principles that I have developed over the last 40 years with James Childress. I also discuss how universal principles are fashioned into particular moralities such as those found in professional medical ethics, and the circumstances under which particular moralities are consistent with universal morality. Finally, I show the relevance of principles for global research ethics and for an understanding of the rights of minorities in multicultural societies.


Moral Ideal Moral Rule Universal Principle Reflective Equilibrium Biomedical Ethic 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyGeorgetown UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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