Communitarian Bioethics

  • Amitai Etzioni
Part of the Library of Public Policy and Public Administration book series (LPPP, volume 11)


A communitarian approach to bioethics adds a core value to a field that is often more concerned with considerations of individual autonomy than with the common good. Some interpretations of liberalism put the needs of the patient over those of the community; authoritarian communitarianism privileges the needs of society over those of the patient. This chapter argues for responsive communitarianism, which starts by asserting that we face two conflicting core values, autonomy and the common good, and that neither should be a priori privileged. Responsive communitarianism does not seek to eliminate this conflict in values; rather, as the chapter outlines, it recommends principles and procedures that can be used to work out such a conflict. This discussion uses the debate in the United States over social justice and funding for entitlements as a case study to apply the values of communitarian bioethics, and finally urges policymakers to incorporate concern for the common good.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Amitai Etzioni
    • 1
  1. 1.The George Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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