Universal Norms and Conflicting Values
Selgelid, Michael J.
Developing World Bioethics 2005 September; 5(3): 267-273
While UNESCO's Universal Draft Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights highlights appropriate ethical values, its principles are stated in absolute terms and conflict with one another. The Draft Declaration fails to sufficiently address the possibility of conflict between principles, and it provides no real guidance on how to strike a balance between them in cases where conflict occurs. The document's inadequate treatment of conflicting values is revealed by examination of cases where principles aimed at the promotion of autonomy and liberty conflict with those aimed at benefit maximization and harm minimization. I argue that liberty (and autonomy) may be less important in the context of health care than in other contexts, and I conclude by suggesting specific ways in which some of UNESCO's principles should be revised in order to better address the reality of conflicting values.
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