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Western or Eastern principles in globalized bioethics? An Asian perspective view

Michael Cheng-Tek Tai

School of Medical Sociology and Social Work, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

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The principles advocated by Georgetown scholars have become the teachings of medical ethics in recent years. These principles provide good guides in clinical decision-making. But they can turn into a set of regulations that require only external observation. Confucian scholars believe that any principle without compassion as a base cannot endure. The eastern teachings regard internal virtues as the foundation of morality that spontaneously motivate a person to act in an ethical way. Without having this inner drive, any regulations, principles or law are but superficial. Eastern society also regards family as a basic unity therefore, familial autonomy is more important than individual autonomy. How do we bridge this gap between eastern and western ethics when contemplating a global bioethics? This article will argue that a global ethics must not neglect the importance of virtues.

Global bioethics; Principles; Virtues


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