Four approaches to doing ethics

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Within the field of medical ethics there is a startling amount of diversity regarding which issues and relationships are deemed relevant for ethical inquiry and analysis, what strategies are appropriate for examining and resolving ethical conflict, what should be the goals for medical ethics, even who should participate in that project. What I will try to make clear in this paper is that how we go about this process of doing medical ethics, of examining, reflecting, decisionmaking, and behaving, makes a practical difference, and not just a philosophical one, in terms of the understandings we will reach about ethical matters. Without attempting to resolve any of the conflicts within or between different conceptions of doing ethics, I will try to articulate the differences in orientation, and particularly the tone and educational emphasis, that attend four major contemporary approaches to ethical inquiry and analysis: deductivism, principlism, modern casuistry, and feminist/relationist ethics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-39
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy


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