BioMedical Ethical Issues


VALUE– that which makes anything worth possessing
  importance, desirability
ETHIC(S)–  standards of conduct or social norms that guide proper behavior
  ideals of character of an individual
  the science dealing with morals and right conduct

Dr. Reid

Ethics and Ethical Decision Making

Key Terms in Ethics

Ethics:  The branch of philosophy that studies morality (rules for right and wrong) and obligation.  It is a form of rational inquiry.  Ethics involves asking not what we are doing, but what ought or should we do.

Values:  Standards and beliefs by which things are judged to be worthwhile or worthless. Moral values help distinguish between right and wrong actions; between good and bad.

Morality:  Concern with right and wrong actions, good and bad behavior.  “Ethics” and “morals” are often used interchangeably.  More precisely, however, ethics is the theory of morality and morals are the practice of making moral judgments.

Four Ethical Principles

  1. Non-Maleficence:  An ethical principle that directs us to prevent, avoid, or reduce harm to others.
  2. Autonomy:  a personal liberty:  the ability to make a decision based on one’s own values and beliefs, free from coercion.
  3. Beneficence:  An ethical principle that involves doing good, producing good, or performing acts of kindness.  It involves positive action, not merely refraining from action.
  4. Justice:  An ethical principle based on the quality of being impartial, treating others fairly and equally.  It particularly applies to the proper distribution of societal benefits and burdens.

Tools for Bioethical Decision-making

  • Identify the bioethical issues                                                                     
  • Assessthe available information                                                                
  • Determine the Stakeholders                                                                       
  • Define the values affecting the decision                                                     
  • Outline the possible courses of action
  • Make a decision and justify it

Four bioethical principles have been described as

  1. Autonomy- respect for the individual and their ability to make decisions with regard to their own health and future.
    1. Actions that enhance autonomy are thought of as desirable;
    2. Actions that ‘dwarf’ an individual and their autonomy are undesirable
  2. Non-maleficence- actions intended not to harm or bring harm to the patient and others
  3. Beneficence- actions intended to benefit the patient or others
  4. Justice- being fair or just to the wider community in terms of the consequences of an action

Values are reasons for ACTING!

Science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be.


Albert Einstein

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