European values in bioethics: why, what, and how to be used?

Theor Med Bioeth. 2003;24(3):199-214. doi: 10.1023/a:1024814710487.

Abstract

Are there distinctly European values in bioethics, and if there are, what are they? Some Continental philosophers have argued that the principles of dignity, precaution, and solidarity reflect the European ethos better than the liberal concepts of autonomy, harm, and justice. These principles, so the argument goes, elevate prudence over hedonism, communality over individualism, and moral sense over pragmatism. Contrary to what their proponents often believe, however, dignity, precaution, and solidarity can be interpreted in many ways, and it is not clear which reading would, or should, be favored by popular opinion. It is therefore dangerous to think that any one understanding of "European", or any other, values could be legitimately imposed on those who have different ideas about morality in health care and related fields. Bioethical principles should be employed to promote discussion, not to suppress it.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bioethics*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Morals*
  • Social Values*