Principles of Biomedical Ethics

Principles of Biomedical Ethics
7th Ed.
2013 © Oxford University Press
James F. Childress; Tom L. Beauchamp
ISBN-10: 0-19-992458-9 / ISBN-13: 978-0-19-992458-5
Ethics, Basic Sciences, Health Education


Building on the best-selling tradition of previous editions, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, Seventh Edition, provides a highly original, practical, and insightful guide to morality in the health professions. Acclaimed authors Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress thoroughly develop and advocate for four principles that lie at the core of moral reasoning in health care: respect for autonomy, non maleficence, beneficence, and justice. Drawing from contemporary research--and integrating detailed case studies and vivid real-life examples and scenarios--they demonstrate how these prima facie principles can be expanded to apply to various conflicts and dilemmas, from how to deliver bad news to whether or not to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatments.

Illuminating both theory and method throughout, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, Seventh Edition, considers what constitutes moral character and addresses the problem of moral status: what rights are due to people and animals, and when. It also examines the professional-patient relationship, surveys major philosophical theories--including utilitarianism, Kantianism, rights theory, and virtue theory--and describes methods of moral justification in bioethics. Ideal for courses in biomedical ethics, bioethics, and health care ethics, the text is enhanced by hundreds of annotated citations and a substantial introduction that clarifies key terms and concepts.

New to this Edition:

  • • Clarified and tightened the account of the common morality and its distinction from both particular moralities and the broad descriptive use of the term "morality" in Chapter 1, "Moral Norms"
  • • A significant body of material on virtue ethics from Chapter 2 is now in Chapter 9, where the book features a whole new section on virtue theory.
  • • New sections on "Degrees of Moral Status," and "The Moral Significance of Moral Status," are now featured in Chapter 3, along with considerably modified the material in the section "Guidelines Governing Moral Status: Putting Specification to Work."
  • • Expanded the section on theories of autonomy, completely overhauled the section on "Therapeutic Use of Placebos," and enlarged the section on "Problems of Information Processing" in Chapter 4
  • • Added new sections on "Historical Problems of Under protection" and "Recent Problems of Overprotection" in human subjects research in Chapter 5
  • • Chapter 6 now includes a treatment of "Expanded Access and Continued Access in Research," and a relocated and integrated discussion of "Surrogate Decision Making for Incompetent Patients."
  • • Chapter 7 now distinguishes "Traditional Theories of Justice," including utilitarian, libertarian, egalitarian, and communitarian theories from "Recent Theories of Justice."
  • • A major new section in Chapter 8, "Clinical Ethics and Research Ethics," investigates the ways in which biomedical research and clinical medicine have been distinguished and how this distinction has affected our thinking about professional ethics and research ethics
  • • Extended and deepened the theory of method and justification in bioethics in the two major constructive sections of Chapter 10.
  • • A new website features suggestions for effectively using the book in the classroom, possible syllabi and examination questions, additional readings, useful exercises, and cases for discussion.

Doody's Reviews

Doody's Core Titles (DCT)
Essential Purchase Title (EPT)
Score: 88/100
3/5 Stars
Specialty Score: 2.27 Health Sciences - Medical Ethics
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Quotes, Reviews or Testimonials

"By engaging critics of principlism, this edition is a critical book for the field of bioethics. Although each subsequent edition seems to expand the reach of principlism, this one represents both an expansion as well as a tightening of the overall theory."

-- Tyler Gibb, JD, PhD(c) (UCLA Health Ethics Center) Doody's Review


This book is critical, from both a historical and a developmental perspective, to understanding bioethics. Thus, bioethicists and students of bioethics, as well as healthcare professionals and members of ethics committees, should carefully read this book. Any understanding of bioethics would be insufficient without an appreciation and understanding of the moral framework this book establishes. In addition to being a foundational text, it is a valuable tool for teaching bioethics and ethical decision-making in the classroom.

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