Global Ethics and Principlism
Kennedy Institute of Ethics journal 2011 Sep; 21(3): 251-76
This article examines the special relation between common morality and particular moralities in the four-principles approach and its use for global ethics. It is argued that the special dialectical relation between common morality and particular moralities is the key to bridging the gap between ethical universalism and relativism. The four-principles approach is a good model for a global bioethics by virtue of its ability to mediate successfully between universal demands and cultural diversity. The principle of autonomy (i.e., the idea of individual informed consent), however, does need to be revised so as to make it compatible with alternatives such as family- or community-informed consent. The upshot is that the contribution of the four-principles approach to global ethics lies in the so-called dialectical process and its power to deal with cross-cultural issues against the background of universal demands by joining them together.
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