Questioning Our Principles: Anthropological Contributions to Ethical Dilemmas in Clinical Practice
CQ: Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 2006 Spring; 15(2): 123-134
This paper presents an analysis of the applicability of a principalist approach for a global, or cross-cultural, bioethics. We focus especially on the principle of individual autonomy, a core value in ethical discourse. We echo some longstanding criticisms of other anthropologists, sociologists, and many medical ethicists that the individualistic approach to autonomy is a Euro-American value and cannot be ethically applied in all settings. As a remedy, we suggest an adaptation of Kleinman?s Explanatory Model approach to questions of decisionmaking.1 We argue that the analysis and resolution of ethical dilemmas might also benefit from forms of pedagogy that integrate anthropological and other social science perspectives, and the incorporation of ethnographic techniques in ethical practice.
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