alexa Further Development of Beauchamp and Childress' Theory Based on Empirical Ethics
ISSN: 2155-9627

Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics
Open Access

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Further Development of Beauchamp and Childress' Theory Based on Empirical Ethics

Mette Ebbesen1*, Svend Andersen2 and Birthe D. Pedersen3

1Centre for Bioethics and Nanoethics, Faculty of Arts, University of Aarhus, Denmark

2Faculty of Arts, University of Aarhus, Denmark

3Research Unit of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

*Corresponding Author:
Mette Ebbesen
Centre for Bioethics and Nanoethics
Faculty of Arts, University of Aarhus
Taasingegade 3, Build. 1443
DK-8000, Aarhus C, Denmark
Tel: +45 8942 2312
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: November 14, 2011; Accepted date: January 19, 2012; Published date: January 25, 2012

Citation: Ebbesen M, Andersen S, Pedersen BD (2012) Further Development of Beauchamp and Childress’ Theory Based on Empirical Ethics. J Clinic Res Bioeth S6:e001. doi:10.4172/2155-9627.S6-e001

Copyright: © 2012 Ebbesen M, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



The American ethicists Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress developed a framework of four ethical principles which are useful to analyze ethical complex cases in biomedicine. These four principles are respect for autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. Beauchamp and Childress believe that their approach to manage ethical difficult cases is cross cultural i.e. that it can be used in different cultures such as American, European, and Asian cultures. However, some of their critics claim that the framework of the four principles is American in nature and for this reason it cannot be used in other cultures. Beauchamp and Childress’ theory is influential worldwide where it is taught to, and used by, students, nurses, physicians etc., therefore it is important to explore whether there are indications that this theory is actually useful in other cultures than the American and whether the theory should be modified for this purpose. This article specifically examines how to investigate whether there are indications that the principles and method of Beauchamp and Childress are cross cultural. First, the theory of Beauchamp and Childress is introduced. Then a suitable method for studying the theory empirically is outlined. This empirical method was used for a Danish empirical study where Danish oncologists and Danish molecular biologists were interviewed. This study is reviewed in the article and it is pointed out that this study indicates that the four principles of Beauchamp and Childress are important for Danish biomedical practice. Lastly, it is concluded that similar empirical studies can be made in other cultural settings to investigate whether there are indications that the ‘principles approach’ of Beauchamp and Childress is cross cultural.

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