PHI 413V Topic 3 Discussion Question 1: Principle of Autonomy

PHI 413V Topic 3 Discussion Question 1: Principle of Autonomy

Topic 3 DQ 1

Principlism, especially in the context of bioethics in the United States, has often been critiqued for raising the principle of autonomy to the highest place, such that it trumps all other principles or values.

  • How would you rank the importance of each of the four principles?
  • How do you believe they would be ordered in the context of the Christian biblical narrative?

Refer to the topic overview and other topic study materials in your response.


Principlism is often referred to as the “four-principle approach” because of its view that there are four ethical principles that are the framework of bioethics. These four principles are the following, as spelled out by Tom L. Beauchamp and David DeGrazia (2004):

  1. Principlism – A principle that requires respect for the decisionmaking capacities of autonomous persons.
  2. Nonmaleficence – A principle requiring that people not cause harm to others.
  3. Beneficence – A group of principles requiring that people prevent harm, provide benefits, and balance benefits against risks and costs.
  4. Justice – A group of principles requiring fair distribution of benefits, risks, and costs. (p. 57)