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Flashcards in Intro to Medical Ethics Deck (13):

What is the basis of theory for consequentialism?

+ An action is right if, and only if it promotes the best consequences

+ Must decide how different consequences are going to be morally evaluated and ranked


What is the basis of theory for deontology?

+ An action is right if, and only if it is in accord with a moral rule or principle

+ A moral rule is one laid on us by God, by reason or would be chosen by rational beings


What is the basis of theory for virtue ethics?

+ An action is right if, and only if it is what a virtuous agent would do in the circumstances

+ A virtue is a character trait a human being needs in order to flourish (hence concept of flourishing is crucial)


What are weaknesses of consequentialism?

+ Sometimes actions that lead to best consequences seem wrong in themselves (prisoner & organ recipients)

+ Some individuals may be treated unjustly

+ Actual v intended consequences


What are weaknesses of deontology?

+ Consequences matter

+ How do we decide on the duties/moral trules?

+ How do you decide duty/moral rule hierarchy


What are the weaknesses of virtue ethics?

+ How do you decide on virtues?

+ May be very culturally specific


What are the 4 principles?

+ Respect for autonomy
+ Beneficence
+ Non-maleficence
+ Justice


What is respect for autonomy?

+ Incorporates the idea of self-governance

+ Allows that a competent informed adult can make their own decisions: INFORMED CONSENT

+ Respect patients' decisions and follow them


What is beneficence?

+ The obligation to act in a way to BENEFIT the patient; to do what is best for them

+ Often conflict between autonomy & beneficence


What is non-maleficence?

+ Primum non nocere; first, do no harm

+ Do not act in a way as to cause harm to your patient


What is the doctrine of double effect?

+ Moral distinction between INTENDING harm and FORESEEING harm

+ Not permissible to deliberately cause harm

+ It is permissible to cause harm through a beneficial effect (harm being a foreseen but unintended side effect of the beneficial effect)


What are the 4 criteria for the doctrine of double effect?

1. The action must be good, independent of it's consequences

2. Although the bad effect can be foreseen, the agent must intend only the good effect

3. The bad effect must not be a means to the good effect

4. The good effect must outweigh, or compensate for, the bad effect


What is justice?

+ Fairness

+ Equivalent health needs get equivalent access to appropriate care

+ Distributive justice (distribute limited resources (time & treatments) fairly and transparently)

+ Respect for rights and morally acceptable laws