The Core Concepts of the 'four Principles' of Bioethics as Found in Islamic Tradition
Medicine and Law: World Association for Medical Law 2002; 21(2): 211-224
Ethics can be described as a sub-branch of applied philosophy that seeks `what is the right and the wrong, the good and the bad set of behaviours in a given circumstance'. Bioethics, however, is a quasi-social science that offers solutions to the moral conflicts arising in medical and biological science practice. There have been different ethical approaches to the issues in the history of philosophy. Two American philosophers, Beauchamp and Childress, formulated some ethical principles namely `respect to autonomy', `justice', `beneficence' and `non-maleficence'. These `Four Principles' which have almost always existed and govern the ethical behaviour of human societies, were presented by the authors as universal and applicable to any culture and society. These `Four Principles' have been one of the most widely discussed issues in Biomedical Ethics with arguments for and against them. The authors' claim has been tested by research conducted in different cultures and societies. In this study we aim to explore the roots of the `Four Principles' in Islamic tradition and culture, and show that this particular set of principles are not something new but only one of the latest formulations of age-old common sense principles. It is therefore concluded that these principles are already being applied in Islamic traditional and cultural societies.
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