Methods in Bioethics

James F. Childress

in The Oxford Handbook of Bioethics

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199562411
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Methods in Bioethics

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This article confines itself largely within boundaries of normative bioethics. It examines major types of principle-based methods (consequentialist, deontological, and pluralistic principlist methods), case-based methods, virtue ethics, ethics of care, and communitarian perspectives, along with some critical points from feminist perspectives and from rule-based theories. One cautionary note is in order: most of these types of method, theory, or perspective encompass a number of approaches that involve some degree of family resemblance. Since it will be impossible to examine all of these approaches in detail, the article highlights some major themes and criticisms, discusses a few representative positions in more detail, and sketches a few of their implications for practical decision-making about physician-assisted suicide and active euthanasia, topics addressed by proponents of all these methods, theories, and perspectives.

Keywords: normative bioethics; principle-based methods; case-based methods; physician-assisted suicide; euthanasia

Article.  13904 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Moral Philosophy

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