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Key Ethical Principles

Principle of Double Effect


An action that is good in itself
that has two effectsan intended and otherwise not
reasonably attainable good
effect, and
an unintended yet foreseen
evil effect--is licit, provided
there is a due proportion
between the intended good
and the permitted evil.

Principle of Double Effect

The object of the act must not be intrinsically


contradictory to one's fundamental commitment to
God and neighbor (including oneself), that is, it must
be a good action judged by its moral object (in other
words, the action must not be intrinsically evil);
The direct intention of the agent must be to achieve
the beneficial effects and to avoid the foreseen
harmful effects as far as possible, that is, one must
only indirectly intend the harm;
The foreseen beneficial effects must not be achieved
by the means of the foreseen harmful effects, and no
other means of achieving those effects are available;
The foreseen beneficial effects must be equal to or
greater than the foreseen harmful effects (the
proportionate judgment);
The beneficial effects must follow from the action at
least as immediately as do the harmful effects.

Principle of Beneficence

Traditionally understood as the "first


principle" of morality, the dictum "do
good and avoid evil" lends some moral
content to this principle.
The principle of beneficence is a "middle
principle" insofar as it is partially
dependent for its content on how one
defines the concepts of the good and
goodness
beneficence is not a specific moral rule
and cannot by itself tell us what
concrete actions constitute doing good
and avoiding evil

Principle of Beneficence

The Principle of Nonmaleficence

commonly translated as "first, do


no harm," is often considered to
be a corollary to the principle of
beneficence.
As a middle principle, the principle
of beneficence (and
nonmaleficence) is the basis for
certain specific moral norms (which
vary depending on how one defines
"goodness").

Principle of Beneficence

Some of the specific norms that arise from


the principle of beneficence in the Catholic
tradition are:
never deliberately kill innocent human
life (which, in the medical context, must
be distinguished from foregoing
disproportionate means);
never deliberately (directly intend) harm;
seek the patients good;
act out of charity and justice;
respect the patients religious beliefs and
value system in accord with the principle
of religious freedom;

Principle of Beneficence
a. always seek the higher good, that is,
never neglect one good except to
pursue a proportionately greater or
more important good;
b. never knowingly commit or approve an
objectively evil action;
c. do not treat others paternalistically but
help them to pursue their goals;
d. use wisdom and prudence in all things,
that is, appreciate the complexity of life
and make sound judgments for the
good of oneself, others, and the
common good.

Principles of Integrity and


Totality

Believes the well-being of the whole person


must be taken into account in deciding about
any therapeutic intervention or use of
technology.
"integrity" refers to each individuals duty to
"preserve a view of the whole human person in
which the values of the intellect, will,
conscience, and fraternity are pre-eminent"
(Gaudium et Spes, n. 61).
"Totality" refers to the duty to preserve intact
the physical component of the integrated bodily
and spiritual nature of human life, whereby
every part of the human body "exists for the
sake of the whole as the imperfect for the sake
of the perfect"

Principles of Integrity and


Totality

However, a part of the human


body may be sacrificed if that
sacrifice means continued
survival for the person.
While such sacrifices are
normally justifiable under the
principles of integrity and
totality, they may sometimes
be forgone under the principle
of disproportionate means.

Principle of Proportionate and


Disproportionate Means

This principle constitutes an important


approach to the analysis of ethical
questions arising from the general
obligation to preserve human life and
the limits of that obligation
the principle addresses whether the
forgoing of life-sustaining treatment
constitutes euthanasia or physicianassisted suicide in certain
circumstances and it guides individuals
and surrogate decision-makers in the
weighing of benefits and burdens.

Principle of Proportionate and


Disproportionate Means
Proportionate means is any treatment
that, in the given circumstances, offers a
reasonable hope of benefit and is not too
burdensome for the patient or others. What
is a reasonable hope of benefit to the patient
should be judged within the context of the
whole person (i.e., considered holistically,
not just physiologically).
A disproportionate means is any
treatment that, in the given circumstances,
either offers no reasonable hope of benefit
(taking into account the well-being of the
whole person) or is too burdensome for the
patient or others, i.e., the burdens or risks
are disproportionate to or outweigh the
expected benefits of the treatment

Principle of Respect for


Persons

All individual human beings are


presumed to be free and
responsible persons and should be
treated as such in proportion to
their ability in the circumstances.
Individuals with reduced
autonomy are entitled to
appropriate protection, according
to the principles of subsidiarity,
human dignity, justice, charity,
and vicarious consent.

Principle of Respect for


Persons

The human person, then, can be understood


in four interrelated ways:
as a bodily subject, that is, we are not
merely spirits that possess bodies, but we
are body as much as we are spirit;
as a knowing subject for which
knowledge is a good both as an end in
itself and as a means to fulfillment;
as a social subject whose primary
context is that of person situated in
community; and
as a self-transcendent subject insofar
as we are related to God in our created
nature, through Gods loving creation and
in our ability to participate in that creation.

Principle of Respect for


Persons

As a subject, and not


merely an object, a
human person must
be treated with
respect in such a way
that recognizes his or
her human dignity.

Principle of Human Dignity


The intrinsic worth that inheres in every
human being .
is rooted in the concept of Imago Dei, in
Christs redemption and in our ultimate
destiny of union with God.
Human dignity therefore transcends any
social order as the basis for rights and is
neither granted by society nor can it be
legitimately violated by society.
Human dignity is the conceptual basis for
human rights.
Every human being should be
acknowledged as an inherently valuable
member of the human community and as
a unique expression of life, with an
integrated bodily and spiritual nature.

Principle of Human Dignity

Is foundational for the


traditions
understanding of
distributive justice, the
common good, the
right to life and the
right to health care

Principle of Informed Consent

It is the right and responsibility of


every competent individual to
advance his or her own welfare.
This right and responsibility is
exercised by freely and
voluntarily consenting or refusing
consent to recommended
medical procedures, based on a
sufficient knowledge of the
benefits, burdens, and risks
involved.

Principle of Informed Consent

The ability to give informed


consent depends on:

1) adequate disclosure of
information;

2) patient freedom of choice;

3) patient comprehension of
information; and

4) patient capacity for


decision-making.

Principle of Informed Consent

When these requirements are met,


three conditions are satisfied:
1) that the individuals decision is
voluntary;
2) that this decision is made with
an appropriate understanding of
the circumstances; and
3) that the patients choice is
deliberate insofar as the patient
has carefully considered all of the
expected benefits, burdens, risks
and reasonable alternatives.

Principle of Stewardship

Stewardship requires us to appreciate the two


great gifts that a wise and loving God has
given:
the earth, with all its natural resources, and
our own human nature, with its biological,
psychological, social and spiritual
capacities
This principle is grounded in the
presupposition that God has absolute
Dominion over creation, and that, insofar as
human beings are made in Gods image and
likeness (Imago Dei), we have been given a
limited dominion over creation and are
responsible for its care.

Principle of Stewardship

The principle requires that the gifts


of human life and its natural
environment be used with profound
respect for their intrinsic ends.
The gift of human creativity
especially should be used to
cultivate nature and the
environment, recognizing the
limitations of our actual knowledge
and the risks of destroying these
gifts.

Principle of Subsidiarity
Subsidiarity requires those in positions of
authority to recognize that individuals
have a right to participate in decisions
that directly affect them, in accord with
their dignity and with their responsibility
to the common good.
one should not withdraw those decisions
or choices that rightly belong to
individuals or smaller groups and assign
them to a higher authority.
It implies that, when a decision is to be
made, we should identify the most
appropriate forum and level of decision
making, and how best and to what degree
those individuals most affected should
participate in the decision making process

Principle of the Common


Good

the common good consists of all the


conditions of society and the goods
secured by those conditions, which
allow individuals to achieve human
and spiritual flourishing
the principle of the common good
has three essential elements:
1) respect for persons;
2) social welfare; and
3) peace and security.

Principle of the Common


Good

the common good requires that the


infrastructure of society is conducive to
the social well being and development
of its individual members.
public authorities are to arbitrate
between competing interests and to
ensure that individual members of
society have access to the basic goods
that are necessary for living a truly
human life, e.g., food, clothing, health
care, meaningful work, education, etc
It requires the peace and security that
accompanies a just social order.