The Virtue Ethics Approach to Bioethics
Bioethics 2011 May; 25(4): 192-201
This paper discusses the viability of a virtue-based approach to bioethics. Virtue ethics is clearly appropriate to addressing issues of professional character and conduct. But another major remit of bioethics is to evaluate the ethics of biomedical procedures in order to recommend regulatory policy. How appropriate is the virtue ethics approach to fulfilling this remit? The first part of this paper characterizes the methodology problem in bioethics in terms of diversity, and shows that virtue ethics does not simply restate this problem in its own terms. However, fatal objections to the way the virtue ethics approach is typically taken in bioethics literature are presented in the second section of the paper. In the third part, a virtue-based approach to bioethics that avoids the shortcomings of the typical one is introduced and shown to be prima facie plausible. The upshot is an inviting new direction for research into bioethics' methodology.
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