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"The new sixth edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics is a welcome event. There is nothing else like it in the field of bioethics. It has easily become over the years the most used, most praised, and most distinguished book in the field. Each edition moves beyond the previous ones in important and nuanced ways. Beauchamp and Childress keep up with the ever-changing terrain of bioethics, and work hard to refine their own arguments. It gets better and better. One can hardly ask for more."—Daniel Callahan, Director, International Program, The Hastings Center
"What is by far the best general book on bioethics has gotten even better. The new material on international justice and virtue ethics is especially valuable. Such a combination of accessibility and rigor is rarely attained."—Allen Buchanan, James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy and James B. Duke Professor of Public Policy Studies, Duke University
"This sixth edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics reaffirms its undisputed stature as a canonical text for the world's bioethicists. It maintains a standard of scholarship and clarity appealing to neophytes and seasoned scholars, to adherents and critics of its principled approach."—Edmund D. Pellegrino, Chairman, President's Council on Bioethics
"The contemporary field of bioethics is unimaginable, absent this text. Principles of Biomedical Ethics provided a paradigmatic approach that shaped the early character of bioethics. It continues to be a source of serious debate regarding the nature of morality and the significance of bioethics. No one can understand the field of bioethics apart from this volume."—H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., M.D., Professor, Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine
"Like all of its previous incarnations, this new edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics offers the reader a window onto the cutting edge of contemporary bioethics. Never content to merely recycle, buff, and slap new covers on old material, Beauchamp and Childress have once again rethought fundamental issues and fully engaged with their critics (including me). Beyond merely contributing to the field of bioethics, PBE has helped to define it."—John D. Arras, Porterfield Professor of Bioethics, University of Virginia
"Every new edition of this classic gets better and better. This is essential reading for all students and scholars of bioethics."—Bernard Lo, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Director, Program in Medical Ethics, University of California, San Francisco
"Principles of Biomedical Ethics has, over six successive editions, clarified and expanded the concepts, definitions, and arguments that make bioethics a discipline instead of random shards of opinion, sometimes astute, sometimes silly, that pass in the media for ethical commentary on medicine and science. This book is the thesaurus of bioethical discourse."—Albert R. Jonsen, Professor Emeritus, Department of Medical History and Ethics, University of Washington
"The sixth edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics, which more than any other book has helped to shape the field of biomedical ethics, is even better than the previous five editions. Beauchamp and Childress continue to listen to their critics, of whom I am one, and to change their book accordingly. Although I still have some problems with the theory of principlism, I have nothing but admiration for their comprehensive and detailed discussion of the moral problems that arise in the field of medicine."—Bernard Gert, Stone Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, Dartmouth College
"Anyone with an interest in the field, including all those who have already been influenced by previous editions of Principles of Biomedical Ethics—and who in our field hasn't been, directly or indirectly?—should read the sixth edition. They will find the by-now familiar principles treated in new ways and, more importantly, thoughtful examinations of global health and of the relationship of vulnerability and exploitation to the often-neglected principle of justice. This book is now essential reading not only for those who grapple with clinical dilemmas and the challenges of biomedical research but also for anyone working on the frontiers of public health, where global epidemics and routine surveillance raise some of the most difficult issues in bioethics."—Alexander M. Capron, University Professor, University of Southern California, and Former Director, Ethics, Trade, Human Rights and Health Law, World Health Organization
Pt. I Moral Foundations
1 Moral Norms 1
Normative and Nonnormative Ethics 1
The Common Morality as Universal Morality 2
Particular Moralities as Nonuniversal 5
Moral Dilemmas 10
A Framework of Moral Norms 12
Conflicting Moral Norms 14
2 Moral Character 30
Moral Virtues 30
Virtues in Professional Roles 33
The Virtue of Caring 36
Five Focal Virtues 38
Moral Virtues and Action Guides 45
Moral Ideals 47
Moral Excellence 51
3 Moral Status 64
The Problem of Moral Status 64
Theories of Moral Status 66
From Theories to Practical Guidelines 81
Vulnerable Populations 89
Pt. II Moral Principles
4 Respect for Autonomy 99
The Nature of Autonomy 99
The Capacity for Autonomous Choice 111
The Meaning and Justification of Informed Consent 117
A Framework of Standards for Surrogate Decision Making 135
5 Nonmaleficence 149
The Concept of Nonmaleficence 149
Distinctions and Rules Governing Nontreatment 155
Optional Treatments and Obligatory Treatments 166
Killing and Letting Die 172
The Justification of Intentionally Arranged Deaths 176
Protecting Incompetent Patients 185
6 Beneficence 197
The Concept of Beneficence 197
Obligatory Beneficence and Ideal Beneficence 198
Paternalism: Conflicts between Beneficence and Autonomy 206
Balancing Benefits, Costs, and Risks 221
The Value and Quality of Life 230
7 Justice 240
The Concept of Justice 241
Theories of Justice 244
Fair Opportunity and Unfair Discrimination 248
Vulnerability and Exploitation 253
National HealthPolicy and the Right to Health Care 258
Global Health Policy and the Right to Health 264
Allocating, Setting Priorities, and Rationing 267
8 Professional-Patient Relationships 288
The Dual Roles of Clinician and Investigator 317
Pt. III Theory and Method
9 Moral Theories 333
Criteria for Theory Construction 334
Rights Theory 350
Convergence of Theories 361
10 Method and Moral 368
Justification in Ethics 368
Top-Down Models: Theory and Application 369
Bottom-Up Models: Cases and Analogy 375
An Integrated Model Using Reflective Equilibrium 381
Common-Morality Theory 387
Posted July 10, 2012
This book was required for my Bachelor's program. It was confusingly written, with no clear definitions of terms. Quite honestly, I question the authors knowledge of medical practice; they constantly referred to mechanical ventilators as "respirators." There is no such machine. If they got this basic fact wrong, what else are they incorrect about? They did offer some compelling examples, but the bulk of the book had to be read and reread to try and discern what they were trying to say. Awful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 5, 2009
While they address all relevant issues regarding biomedical ethics, their reasoning is mainly just opinions. They argue their points well but tend to write in circles, making up many terms and ideas to support their logic. I would never recommend this to anyone. This book was required reading for my graduate degree. How can you write about what ethics and morals are "right?" They do and take the assumption that the right way to think is theirs. One's ethics do not change after reading this, but they do assume that is what should happen. It is written in a very difficult style. You have to re-read paragraphs to understand their reasoning. They should have organized their chapters better or at least provide outlines. Plus their opinions are not realistic because they do not consider many aspects of healthcare like the numerous professions involved, politics, lawyers, insurnace, business principles, costs and actual laws.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Tom Beauchamp, of Georgetown University, and James Childress, of the University of Virginia, have produced a splendid sixth edition of their classic book on biomedical ethics. Throughout, the authors sensitively discuss real life dilemmas.
Part 1 looks at moral foundations: moral norms, moral character and moral status. Part 2 studies what the authors define as the four key moral principles, general norms of our common morality: respect for autonomy, doing no harm, beneficence and justice. Part 3 examines moral theories and moral justification.
They argue that there is not just one supreme moral value, a single absolute yardstick to solve every ethical problem. They write, "The problems of bioethics are often problems of getting just the right specification or balance of principles. Principles should never be conceived as trumps that allow them alone to determine a right outcome. . rights, like all principles and rules of obligation, are prima facie (i.e., presumptively) valid claims that sometimes must yield to other claims."
To aid our moral deliberation and decision-making, we need to consider our actions or inactions in regard to dilemmas in the light of each of the principles. "Principles need to be made specific for cases, and case analysis needs illumination from general principles." Putting the four principles of bioethics into practice results in moral behaviour.
The authors argue that respect for autonomy is not necessarily individualistic, rationalist or legalistic. With beneficence, we must take responsibility for our community, competently, compassionately and cooperatively.
The authors argue that justice entails that governments fund health care, as our collective social protection against threats to health. Justice (fairness and equity) and utility (efficiency) are essential to health care systems.
They sum up, "Policies of just access to health care, strategies of efficiency in health care institutions, and global needs for the reduction of health-impairing conditions dwarf in social importance every other issue considered in this book. . we have proposed that society recognize global rights to health and enforceable rights to a decent minimum of health care within a framework of allocation that incorporates both utilitarian and egalitarian standards."