Specification is an integral part of Tom L Beauchamp and James F Childress' principlist approach to biomedical ethics. At the same time, the authors give much space conceding to critics that the method has significant limits. Although their pointing to limitations is not unreasonable as such, the emphasis Beauchamp and Childress put on them does not serve countering the critics' view that specification is insufficient for its intended purpose in applied ethics. This paper defends specification against Carson Strong's critique, showing that his casuistic approach shares strong structural and functional similarities with specification. It concludes with the more general point that specification or some closely related method for determining morally relevant facts of concrete cases and issues is indispensable for any account of applied ethics. Beauchamp and Childress should endorse and defend specification more vigorously than they appear to do.
- applied and professional ethics
- philosophical ethics
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
Funding German Research Foundation (DFG) (RA 1372/1).
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.
Read the full text or download the PDF:
Other content recommended for you
- Principlism or narrative ethics: must we choose between them?
- Judgement and the role of the metaphysics of values in medical ethics
- Methods and principles in biomedical ethics
- Ethics in epidemiology and public health I. Technical terms
- Determining the common morality's norms in the sixth edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics
- Why I wrote my advance decision to refuse life-prolonging treatment: and why the law on sanctity of life remains problematic
- The problem of ‘thick in status, thin in content’ in Beauchamp and Childress' principlism
- Ethics needs principles—four can encompass the rest—and respect for autonomy should be “first among equals”
- Sources of bias in clinical ethics case deliberation
- Neonatal euthanasia: moral considerations and criminal liability