The Variety of Principle-based Approaches
No single approach can be called the principles approach. Criticism aimed at a deontological theory that is principle-based may not be effective against a consequentialist theory that is also principle-based. And yet the language of "principles" is sometimes mistakenly restricted to deontological theories, that is, to theories holding that some inherent or intrinsic features of actions, such as lying or truthfulness, make them right or wrong.
Act utilitarians apply the principle of utility directly to different possible acts in a situation to determine which act would probably produce the greatest good; that act is then right and obligatory. Act utilitarians apply the principle of utility directly to different possible acts in a situation to determine which act would probably produce the greatest good; that act is then right and obligatory.
Various deontological and consequentialist moral principles appear in bioethical debates. For example, three major principles are: respect for persons (which includes respect for autonomy), beneficence (which includes nonmaleficence) and justice.
General moral considerations: obligations to respect the wishes of competent persons Autonomy; obligations not to harm others, including not killing them or treating them cruelly Nonmaleficence; obligations to benefit others Beneflcence; obligations to produce a net balance of benefits over harms Utility; obligations to distribute benefits and harms fairly (justice); obligations to keep promises and contracts Fidelity; obligations of truthfulness; obligations to disclose information; and obligations to respect privacy and to protect confidential information (confidentiality).
In short, one major difference among principle-based approaches is how they sort out different obligations. Some may encompass several obligations under a few general headings, while others may view them as distinct and even separable obligations. And some theories favor the language of rights over the language of obligations.
Variety also marks the justification of different ethical principles
Some of the language principles suggest a strictly rationalist theory that appeals to non historical foundations, such as natural law. And they argue that principle-based approaches pay inadequate attention to history, convention, community, tradition, and the like. Certainly, some principle-based approaches do in fact appeal to universal moral norms based on natural law.
There are particularistic and universalistic versions of appeals to "common morality," but all of them refrain from drawing norms from abstract human reason or human nature.
Connecting general principles to particular judgments about cases
need bridges to concrete particular judgments
same principle may point in different directions
any relevant principle may conflict with other relevant principles Connection to case studies:
application (involves deductive application of principles and rules) 2.
balancing ( weighs conflicting principles)
specification (proceeds by „qualitatively tailoring our norms to cases“)
case judgments modify the way principles are formulated and interpreted ·
most principle-based approaches reject the metaphor of application as misleading
“specifying norms' meaning, range and scope”
any attempt to give content to a principle involves specifying the cases. Any principle then, which has content goes some way down the path of specifity 2.
specification takes the form of rules that provide more concrete guidance 3.
apparent cases of conflict between principles (and rules) may evapoarte when the relevant principles (and rules) are more fully specified
example: lying: Physican tells a lie when he or she greatly exaggerates the severity of the patients medical problems in order to obrain full insurance coverage for the patient.
-moral debate: rule...
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