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.
KeywordsMorals Professional ethics Applied ethics Bioethics Virtues Values Principles Rules Rights Duties Aristotle Kant
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