Basic ethical principles in European bioethics and biolaw: autonomy, dignity, integrity and vulnerability--towards a foundation of bioethics and biolaw

Med Health Care Philos. 2002;5(3):235-44. doi: 10.1023/a:1021132602330.


This article summarizes some of the results of the BIOMED II project "Basic Ethical Principles in European Bioethics and Biolaw" (1995-1998) connected to a research project of the Danish Research Councils "Bioethics and Law" (1993-1998). The BIOMED project was based on cooperation between 22 partners in most EU countries. The aim of the project was to identify the ethical principles of respect for autonomy, dignity, integrity and vulnerability as four important ideas or values for a European bioethics and biolaw. The research concluded that the basic ethical principles cannot be understood as universal everlasting ideas or transcendental truths but they rather function reflective guidelines and important values in European culture. The method of the research was conceptual, philosophical analysis of the cultural background of the four values or normative ideas that people use and find important in their existence. Moreover, this was combined with analysis of empirical legal material and policy documents. Also, a number of qualitative interviews with relevant experts were carried out. Another important result of the BIOMED project was the partner's Policy Proposals to the European Commission, the Barcelona Declaration, unique as a philosophical and political agreement between experts in bioethics and biolaw from many different countries. The Policy Proposals are reprinted here at the end of the article.

MeSH terms

  • Bioethics*
  • Codes of Ethics*
  • Denmark
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Legislation, Medical / ethics*
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Pilot Projects
  • Public Policy
  • Social Values