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March 23, 1984

Principles of Biomedical Ethics

Author Affiliations

University of Kentucky College of Medicine Lexington

JAMA. 1984;251(12):1619. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340360075041

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Recognition that understanding of ethical principles is requisite for analysis of ethical issues in clinical cases underpins the significance of the contribution of Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress in Principles of Biomedical Ethics, (second edition.) The authors provide "a systematic analysis of the moral principles that should apply to biomedicine," focusing on the process of moral reasoning from ethical principles. They ambitiously appeal to health clinicians, researchers, policy makers, philosophers and theologians, and teachers and students.

Structurally, the book includes a brief overview of moral reasoning; a general exposition of two broad ethical theoretical frameworks, utilitarianism and deontology; detailed analysis of the fundamental principles of autonomy, nonmaleficence ("Do no harm"), beneficence, and justice; examination of rules of veracity, confidentiality, privacy, and fidelity, in the context of various professional-patient relationships; and consideration of moral attributes of persons (as contrasted with acts); followed by appendices with case histories and professional