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When four principles are too many: a commentary
  1. Raanan Gillon
  1. Correspondence to Professor Raanan Gillon, Department of Primary Care and Social Medicine, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK; raanan.gillon{at}


This commentary briefly argues that the four prima facie principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, respect for autonomy and justice enable a clinician (and anybody else) to make ethical sense of the author's proposed reliance on professional guidance and rules, on law, on professional integrity and on best interests, and to subject them all to ethical analysis and criticism based on widely acceptable basic prima facie moral obligations; and also to confront new situations in the light of those acceptable principles.

  • Medical ethics
  • suicide/assisted suicide
  • rights
  • right to refuse treatment
  • resource allocation

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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