Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics

Living Edition
| Editors: Henk ten Have


  • M. Patrão Neves
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-05544-2_177-1


Ethics, as a philosophical discipline, was first structured and systematized in ancient Greece, most particularly by Aristotle. Its evolution throughout history is marked by some important shifts, among which two stand out: from a heteronomous ethics to an autonomous ethics and from a necessary universalism to a proposed relativism, each one having different impacts on bioethics. The birth of applied ethics, in which bioethics takes the lead, was another important step in ethics’ contemporary development.

This entry follows the major shifts of ethics’ evolution, stressing their influence on bioethics. It also focuses on the required accurate definition of key concepts of ethical reflection and bioethical practice – such as principles and norms, values and virtues, rights and duties – and the right perception of the implication of each one and of their respective interactions in the understanding of action’s rationality.


Morals Professional ethics Applied ethics Bioethics Virtues Values Principles Rules Rights Duties Aristotle Kant 
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  1. Beauchamp, T., & Childress, J. (2013). Principles of biomedical ethics (7th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. (1st ed., 1979).Google Scholar
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Further Readings

  1. Aranguren, J. L. (1965). Ética 3ª; Moral y Sociedad. La moral española en el siglo XIX, 1982, 2ª; Ética y política, 1985, 2ª.Google Scholar
  2. Aristote. (1983). Éthique a Nicomaque (J. Tricot, Trans.). Paris: J. Vrin.Google Scholar
  3. Beauchamp, T. (2003). Methods and principles in biomedical ethics. Journal of Medical Ethics, 29, 269–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Folscheid, D., Feuillet-Le-Mintier, B., & Mattei, J.-F. (1997). Philosophie, éthique et droit de la médicine. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.Google Scholar
  5. Heidegger, M. (1946). Über den Humanismus (R. Munier, Trans.). (Lettre sur l’Humanisme). Paris: Aubier-Montagne. (3rd ed., 1983).Google Scholar
  6. Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Rev. ed., 1999).Google Scholar
  7. Richardson, H. (1990). Specifying norms as a way to resolve concrete ethical problems. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 19, 279–310.Google Scholar
  8. Richardson, H. (2000). Specifying, balancing, and interpreting bioethical principles. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 25, 285–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bioethics Research Centre, Bioethics InstituteCatholic University of PortugalPortoPortugal