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Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 1995 Sep;5(3):219-36.

Common morality as an alternative to principlism.


Unlike the principles of Kant, Mill, and Rawls, those of principlism are not action guides that stem from an underlying, integrated moral theory. Hence problems arise in reconciling the principles with each other and, indeed, in interpreting them as action guides at all, since they have no content in and of themselves. Another approach to "theory and method in bioethics" is presented as an alternative to principlism, though actually the "alternative" predates principlism by about 10 years. The alternative's account of morality stays close to ordinary, common morality with its rules and ideals, which in turn are grounded in aspects of human nature. As such, morality must be understood to be a rational, impartial, and public system that is incumbent on everyone. Morality is a unified and integrated system. The moral rules and ideals are also "culture-" and "profession-sensitive" in that they are interpreted more specifically within these various contexts.

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