1. The ‘Four Principles’ Approach to Health Care Ethics

  1. Richard E. Ashcroft Professor of Biomedical Ethics2,
  2. Angus Dawson Senior Lecturer in Ethics and Philosophy3,
  3. Heather Draper Reader in Biomedical Ethics4 and
  4. John R. McMillan Senior Lecturer5
  1. Tom L. Beauchamp Professor of Philosophy

Published Online: 18 JUN 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470510544.ch1

Principles of Health Care Ethics, Second Edition

Principles of Health Care Ethics, Second Edition

How to Cite

Beauchamp, T. L. (2006) The ‘Four Principles’ Approach to Health Care Ethics, in Principles of Health Care Ethics, Second Edition (eds R. E. Ashcroft, A. Dawson, H. Draper and J. R. McMillan), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470510544.ch1

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Queen Mary University of London, Barts and the London Medical School, Institute of Health Sciences Education, 38–40 New Road, London E1 2AX, UK

  2. 3

    Centre for Professional Ethics, School of Law, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK

  3. 4

    Centre for Biomedical Ethics, Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Primary Care Clinical Sciences Building, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

  4. 5

    Philosophy Department, The University of Hull, Room: L173 (Larkin Building - West), Hull HU6 7RX, UK

Author Information

  1. Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University, New North 215-37th and O Streets, NW Washington, DC 20057, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 JUN 2007
  2. Published Print: 15 JUN 2006

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470027134

Online ISBN: 9780470510544



  • principles;
  • Coherence Theory;
  • principlism;
  • autonomy;
  • Nonmaleficence;
  • beneficence;
  • justice;
  • Belmont Report;
  • common morality;
  • Specification;
  • Reflective Equilibrium;
  • Informed Consent;
  • Universalism and Relativism


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Origins of Principles in Health Care Ethics

  • The Framework of Principles

  • The Centrality of the Common Morality

  • The Prima Facie Character of Principles and Rules

  • The Specification of Principles and Rules


  • References