The Principles of Biomedical Ethics by Tom L Beauchamp and James F Childress which is now in its fourth edition has had a great influence on the development of bioethics through its exposition of a theory based on the four principles: respect for autonomy; non-maleficence; beneficence, and justice (1). The theory is developed as a common-morality theory, and the present paper attempts to show how this approach, starting from American common-morality, leads to an underdevelopment of beneficence and justice, and that the methods offered for specification and balancing of principles are inadequate.
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