J Med Ethics 29:287-291 doi:10.1136/jme.29.5.287
  • Paper

Principlism and communitarianism

  1. D Callahan
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor D Callahan, The Hastings Center, 255 Elm Rd, Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510, USA; 
  • Accepted 27 June 2003


The decline in the interest in ethical theory is first outlined, as a background to the author’s discussion of principlism. The author’s own stance, that of a communitarian philosopher, is then described, before the subject of principlism itself is addressed. Two problems stand in the way of the author’s embracing principlism: its individualistic bias and its capacity to block substantive ethical inquiry. The more serious problem the author finds to be its blocking function. Discussing the four scenarios the author finds that the utility of principlism is shown in the two scenarios about Jehovah’s Witnesses but that when it comes to selling kidneys for transplantation and germline enhancement, principlism is of little help.


    Free sample
    This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of JME.
    View free sample issue >>

    Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.

    Navigate This Article