Human rights and bioethics

J Med Ethics. 2008 May;34(5):379-83. doi: 10.1136/jme.2007.020859.


In the first part of this article we survey the concept of human rights from a philosophical perspective and especially in relation to the "right to healthcare". It is argued that regardless of meta-ethical debates on the nature of rights, the ethos and language of moral deliberation associated with human rights is indispensable to any ethics that places the victim and the sufferer in its centre. In the second part we discuss the rise of the "right to privacy", particularly in the USA, as an attempt to make the element of personal free will dominate over the element of basic human interest within the structure of rights and when different rights seem to conflict. We conclude by discussing the relationship of human rights with moral values beyond the realm of rights, mainly human dignity, free will, human rationality and response to basic human needs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioethical Issues*
  • Female
  • Human Rights*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morals
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Privacy / legislation & jurisprudence