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Principles of Biomedical Ethics 6th Edition

25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195335705
ISBN-10: 0195335708
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Editorial Reviews


"Principles of Biomedical Ethics is, and continues to be, a tremendous contribution to the bioethics literature. Whether one agrees or disagrees with [the authors'] approach, it is unquestionable that theirs is the predominant means of addressing ethical dilemmas in healthcare in the United States today."--Deborah Barnbaum, Kent State University

"Principles of Biomedical Ethics has the deserved status of a classic in its field. The authors are excellent role models of ethical reasoning for students to emulate."--Craig Duncan, Ithaca College

"The overall quality of Principles of Biomedical Ethics is outstanding. From it, a careful and interested reader can come away with a thorough, in-depth, and consistent understanding of bioethics. The major strength of the book is its firm grounding in theory. In this respect, it stands head and shoulders above any of its competitors."--Robert Rothman, Rochester Institute of Technology

"The new sixth edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics is a welcome event. There is nothing else like it in the field of bioethics. It has easily become over the years the most used, most praised, and most distinguished book in the field. Each edition moves beyond the previous ones in important and nuanced ways. Beauchamp and Childress keep up with the ever-changing terrain of bioethics, and work hard to refine their own arguments. It gets better and better. One can hardly ask for more."--Daniel Callahan, Director, International Program, The Hastings Center

"What is by far the best general book on bioethics has gotten even better. The new material on international justice and virtue ethics is especially valuable. Such a combination of accessibility and rigor is rarely attained."--Allen Buchanan, James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy and James B. Duke Professor of Public Policy Studies, Duke University

"This sixth edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics reaffirms its undisputed stature as a canonical text for the world's bioethicists. It maintains a standard of scholarship and clarity appealing to neophytes and seasoned scholars, to adherents and critics of its principled approach. It culls the new and the old with precision and adds a new chapter on moral status. Anyone hoping to stay current with the continuing evolution of bioethics must read this update."--Edmund D. Pellegrino, Chairman, President's Council on Bioethics

"The contemporary field of bioethics is unimaginable, absent this text. Principles of Biomedical Ethics provided a paradigmatic approach that shaped the early character of bioethics. It continues to be a source of serious debate regarding the nature of morality and the significance of bioethics. No one can understand the field of bioethics apart from this volume."--H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., M.D., Professor, Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine

"Principles of Biomedical Ethics has, over six successive editions, clarified and expanded the concepts, definitions, and arguments that make bioethics a discipline instead of random shards of opinion, sometimes astute, sometimes silly, that pass in the media for ethical commentary on medicine and science. This book is the thesaurus of bioethical discourse."--Albert R. Jonsen, Professor Emeritus, Department of Medical History and Ethics, University of Washington

"The sixth edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics, which more than any other book has helped to shape the field of biomedical ethics, is even better than the previous five editions. Beauchamp and Childress continue to listen to their critics, of whom I am one, and to change their book accordingly. Although I still have some problems with the theory of principlism, I have nothing but admiration for their comprehensive and detailed discussion of the moral problems that arise in the field of medicine. I plan to use this edition, as I have used previous editions, as one of the primary texts in my course in Philosophy of Medicine."--Bernard Gert, Stone Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, Dartmouth College

"Every new edition of this classic gets better and better. This is essential reading for all students and scholars of bioethics."--Bernard Lo, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Director, Program in Medical Ethics, University of California, San Francisco

About the Author

Tom L. Beauchap is a Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. James F. Childress is Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics and Professor of Medical Education at the University of Virginia.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 6th edition (May 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195335708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195335705
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Ernest G. Barr on October 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Book Review PRINCIPLES OF BIOMEDICAL ETHICS Tom L. Beauchamnp and James F. Childress
"You can't tell a book by it's cover." Don't you believe it! Principles of Biomedical Ethics by Beauchamp and Childress is every bit as formidable as it's cover might suggest. That is not to say that the book is poorly written or inadequate in any way. It is just that this reviewer is a student, whose professor, at the end of the course confessed to the class the the text was indeed a demanding work requiring proportional effort on the part of the student. Granting that, it was the best of several texts he had examined.
After setting the stage, in chapter one with a discussion of approaches to ethics, the authors, in chapter two, deliniate in detail, eight classical ethical theories, which form the foundation of the study. Through liberal use of examples, the authors reveal that all theories have both weaknesses as well as strengths and that to rely on one theory to the exclusion of others is indeed a hightly questionable approach to ethical decision making.
In the subsequent six chapters, the authors continue with a wealth of case studies, elaborate on the importance of autonomy, privacy and dangers of paternalism; they discuss the elements of nonmaleficence and beneficence as essential elements in the Hippocratic oath. Distictions are made between killing and letting die. Arguments are made for and against the use of medically administered nutrition and hydration. Balancing prima facie norms to provide treatment and for truth telling are examined and the extenuating circumstances when these seemingly basic tenets may not be appropriate are discussed.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the most recent edition of a first rate textbook on the difficult topic of medical ethics. The authors' approach is neither to attempt to derive a set of guidelines from abstract moral theory nor to be completely empirical in the sense of simply assessing what clinicians and researchers do when dealing with moral issues. The approach of this book is to extract a series of important principles from the best aspects of practice and then to generalize these principles. The 4 basic principles set out by the authors are respect for autonomy, non-maleficience, beneficience, and justice. The book is divided into a series of well written and integrated chapters covering the basic rationale for the authors' approach, each of the principles, professional-patient relations, and concluding with a set of chapters covering basic moral theories and how the authors' approach fits in with moral theory and competing approaches.
This book has many virtues. The basic approach is strong and practical. Each principle and the exposition of each principle is embedded in real clinical moral problems. The authors make the interesting and important point that none of these principles have priority over another and that balances need to be sought between these principles. This book is simultaneously an excellent exposition of a strong approach to medical ethics and useful reference source to clarify thinking. The bibliography is excellent. Some of the chapters, notably the sections on autonomy and those on justice, are outstanding. The quality of writing is clear and the sections are distinguished by clarity of thought. The authors set themselves objective of writing a book that would combine a high level of rigor and would be useful, reaching a mixed audience of physicians, researchers, and others concerned with medical ethics. They have succeeded.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on August 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Tom Beauchamp, of Georgetown University, and James Childress, of the University of Virginia, have produced a splendid sixth edition of their classic book on biomedical ethics. Throughout, the authors sensitively discuss real life dilemmas.

Part 1 looks at moral foundations: moral norms, moral character and moral status. Part 2 studies what the authors define as the four key moral principles, general norms of our common morality: respect for autonomy, doing no harm, beneficence and justice. Part 3 examines moral theories and moral justification.

They argue that there is not just one supreme moral value, a single absolute yardstick to solve every ethical problem. They write, "The problems of bioethics are often problems of getting just the right specification or balance of principles. Principles should never be conceived as trumps that allow them alone to determine a right outcome. ... rights, like all principles and rules of obligation, are prima facie (i.e., presumptively) valid claims that sometimes must yield to other claims."

To aid our moral deliberation and decision-making, we need to consider our actions or inactions in regard to dilemmas in the light of each of the principles. "Principles need to be made specific for cases, and case analysis needs illumination from general principles." Putting the four principles of bioethics into practice results in moral behaviour.

The authors argue that respect for autonomy is not necessarily individualistic, rationalist or legalistic. With beneficence, we must take responsibility for our community, competently, compassionately and cooperatively.

The authors argue that justice entails that governments fund health care, as our collective social protection against threats to health.
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