The Principle of Nonmaleficence: Illustrative Cases In the course of caring for patients, there are some situations in which some type of harm seems inevitable, and we are usually morally bound to choose the lesser of the two evils, although the lesser of evils may be determined by the circumstances. For example, most would be willing to experience some pain if the procedure in question would prolong life.
The Concepts of Beneficence and Benevolence The term beneficence connotes acts of mercy, kindness, and charity. It is suggestive of altruism, love, humanity, and promoting the good of others.
In ordinary language, the notion is broad, but it is understood even more broadly in ethical theory to include effectively all forms of action intended to benefit or promote the good of other persons.
Many dimensions of applied ethics appear to incorporate such appeals to obligatory beneficence, even if only implicitly. For example, when apparel manufacturers are criticized for not having good labor practices in factories, the ultimate goal of the criticisms is usually to obtain better working conditions, wages, and benefits for workers.
Whereas beneficence refers to an action done to benefit others, benevolence refers to the morally valuable character trait—or virtue—of being disposed to act to benefit others.
Many acts of beneficence have been understood in moral theory as obligatory, as determined by principles of beneficence that state moral obligation. However, beneficent acts also may be performed from nonobligatory, optional moral ideals, which are standards that belong to a morality of meritorious aspiration in which individuals or institutions adopt goals and practices that are not obligatory for everyone.
Exceptional beneficence is commonly categorized as supererogatory, a term meaning paying or performing beyond what is obligatory or doing more than is required.
This category of extraordinary conduct usually refers to high moral ideals of action, but it has links to virtues and to Aristotelian ideals of moral excellence. Such ideals of action and moral excellence of character need not rise to the level of the moral saint or moral hero.
Even moral excellence comes by degrees. Not all supererogatory acts of beneficence or benevolent dispositions are exceptionally arduous, costly, or risky. Saintly and heroic beneficence and benevolence are at the extreme end of a continuum of beneficent conduct and commitment.
This continuum is not merely a continuum mapping the territory beyond duty. It is a continuum of beneficence itself, starting with obligatory beneficence. An absence of this sort of beneficence constitutes a defect in the moral life, even if not a failure of obligation. The continuum ends with high-level acts of supererogation such as heroic acts of self-sacrifice to benefit others.
Beneficence is best understood as spread across this continuum. However, there is considerable controversy about where obligation ends and supererogation begins on the continuum.
A celebrated example of beneficence that rests somewhere on this continuum, though it is hard to locate just where, is the New Testament parable of the Good Samaritan. In this parable, robbers have beaten and left half-dead a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho.
A Samaritan tends to his wounds and cares for him at an inn. However, they do not seem—on the information given—to rise to the level of heroic or saintly conduct. The morally exceptional, beneficent person may be laudable and emulable, yet neither a moral saint nor a moral hero.
The Historical Place of Beneficence in Ethical Theory The history of ethical theory shows that there are many ways to think about beneficence and benevolence. Several landmark ethical theories have embraced these moral notions as central categories, while proposing strikingly different conceptual and moral analyses.
Beneficence in these writers is close to the essence of morality. Other writers, including Kant, have given less dominance to beneficence, but still give it an important place in morality.
He argues that natural benevolence accounts, in great part, for what he calls the origin of morality.The four ethical principles of autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice provide a set of abstract norms to facilitate ethical decision-making.
Determining a treatment plan for urinary incontinence in an older adult: application of the four-topic approach to ethical decision-making. Published: Wed, 10 May Going through end of the life experience and saying good by forever to a loved one both are very sensitive issues.
A 70 years old female cancer patient is counting her last breaths in oncology department. Prime examples are found in the moral-sentiment theory of David Hume, where benevolence is the central “principle” of human nature in his moral psychology, and in utilitarian theories, where the principle of utility is itself a strong and demanding principle of beneficence.
The principle of “Non-Maleficence” requires an intention to avoid needless harm or injury that can arise through acts of commission or omission. In common language, it can be considered “negligence” if you impose a careless or unreasonable risk of harm upon another. The principle of “Non-Maleficence” requires an intention to avoid needless harm or injury that can arise through acts of commission or omission.
In common language, it can be considered “negligence” if you impose a careless or unreasonable risk of harm upon another. Print Beneficence & Nonmaleficence in Research Ethics Worksheet 1.
Omitting care that should be provided with a procedure is a violation of which principle of research ethics?