Care and Respect in Bioethics

This book discusses the philosophical foundations of bioethics, with a particular focus on the tensions and potential dilemmas generated by the intuitionist meta-ethical commitments of the predominant normative theory, namely “the four principles approach.” This view is based on the prima facie norms of respect for autonomy (one ought to respect the autonomous choices of subjects of scientific research/patients), non-maleficence (one ought to refrain from inflicting harm), beneficence (one ought to do good and prevent, or remove, harm) and justice (one ought to treat people fairly). The tensions in applying these basic principles may lead to inaction in scientific experiments involving human subjects or to arbitrary applications of the norms in the art of caring. The problem can be made explicit in these terms: on the one hand, caring without respecting seems blind, degenerating into forms of paternalism when, for instance, the carer imposes her conception of the good life or a particular procedure on the cared-for; on the other hand, respecting without caring amounts to indifference or individualism when, for example, a person does not look after a vulnerable being properly. The initial hypothesis of this book, then, is that the concept of respectful care can be built up, working from an ethico-philosophical perspective, to be a leading notion capable of guiding our daily actions and bioethical practices.

Darlei Dall’Agnol is Professor of Ethics at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil. He completed his PhD at Bristol University, UK, in 2001, on the concept of intrinsic value. He has been a Researcher at the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) since 2004. He was a visiting scholar at Michigan University, USA, in 2007, where he worked on the project of a new moral epistemology, and, more recently at Oxford University, UK, in 2015, researching the relationship between care and respect in bioethics. He has published several articles and books on ethics, including on the philosophical foundations of bioethics.

“Bioethics has been challenged by a seemingly irresolvable dilemma. Two compelling ideals, concern for patients’ well-being, on the one hand, and respect for their dignity or autonomy, on the other, seem unalterably opposed. Focusing on the former to the exclusion of the latter can lead to paternalism, while focusing on the latter of the former, can lead us to cold indifference. Darlei Dall’Agnol’s book is a much-needed attempt to work out, not just how to balance these competing concerns, but how to integrate them into the idea of respectful care.”
Professor Stephen Darwall
Yale University, USA

“This rich, philosophically informed, and humane book argues powerfully for the view that the idea of respectful care lies at the heart of bioethics. It is engaging and accessible, and should be read by all with a serious interest in the ethics of how we treat others in the health care context.”
Professor Roger Crisp
Oxford University, UK

“In a world where it is increasingly recognized that medical care and health require more than technical knowledge, Darlei Dall’Agnol provides a strikingly original account of what more is needed. In so doing, he shows how to rethink fundamental questions about the distinctive kinds of knowledge, and ways of knowing, essential for connecting moral thought and practice. His theory, ‘practical cognitivism’, provides a compelling picture of how to integrate the two major dimensions of moral concern that find expression in medicine: caring and respect.”
Professor Peter Railton
University of Michigan, USA

“Caring and respect are the two most important attitudes in bioethics, but how they can be unified in a single account? For a unified theory we need both an account of which rights a person has or could have, and how people can develop the appropriate dispositions of respecting others, as well as an account of the basic human needs and forms of well-being and of how one could develop the appropriate sympathetic disposition of caring. Through an approach enriched by hard cases, Darlei Dall’Agnol develops a very insightful and persuasive account of how the single attitude of respectful care forms a unified and integrated form of moral practical knowledge in the bioethical domain.”
Dr Marco Antônio Oliveira de Azevedo
Unisinos, Brazil

“Professor Dall’Agnol challenges the structure of bioethics with a reconceptualization of the role of principles and action. He argues that bioethics has operated with an insufficient moral epistemology with its focus on knowing-that and neglect of knowing-how. His ‘practical cognitivism’ opens up a space for bioethics to engage in the practice of knowing-how beyond mere application of principles. The attitude of ‘respectful care’, a synthesis of principled respect with direct concern, is able to embody this new approach to moral epistemology. His method can unite the divergent views of deontologists, consequentialists, and virtue ethicists in practice.”
Professor Frederick Rauscher
Michigan State University, USA

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ISBN: 1-4438-9783-3

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-9783-9

Release Date: 13th September 2016

Pages: 190

Price: £54.99