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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Holly A Bante, MPH, MS (Saint Louis University)
Description: This collection of 15 important and influential essays by Tom Beauchamp over the last 25 years focuses on significant bioethics topics that are discussed mostly in the context of the principlist approach, which centers bioethical reasoning on four main principles: beneficence, nonmaleficence, respect for autonomy, and justice. The principlist approach, developed by both Beauchamp and coauthor James Childress, was first described and defended in the transformative Principles of Biomedical Ethics, first published in 1979 and now in its sixth edition from Oxford University Press.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a collection of essays that focus not only on substantive bioethics issues, but also on moral principles and methodology. Topics and chapters are similar to discussions in Principles of Biomedical Ethics, but many topics have been further explored and defended.
Audience: Tom Beauchamp is considered one of the founding fathers of contemporary bioethics. Students and scholars alike will enjoy the journey through the diverse material in this book, starting with the emergence of the principles in the mid-1970s, and moving to discussions of the process of informed consent, exploitation in pharmaceutical research, and defense of common morality theory.
Features: The book is divided into three parts: "The Belmont Report and the Rise of Principles," "Principlism and Practice," and "Theory and Method." Although some of the essays mirror the content of Principles of Biomedical Ethics, some have been augmented to include new defenses regarding the application of Beauchamp and Childress's common morality theory, while others have gone in new directions.
Assessment: Readers will get a glimpse into key bioethical issues that the author has explored over the last 25 years with this book. Many essays overlap with discussions in the numerous editions of the canonical textbook, but the author provides a thorough introduction and explains the publishing history and how the essays have evolved. This is a wonderful resource for bioethics students and scholars. Although some of the essays were written decades ago, they are valuable for anyone wishing to see how Beauchamp has continued to shape the field of bioethics and refine his arguments for common morality theory.