Some of the early founders of bioethics put forth four principles which form this framework for moral reasoning. These four principles are:
Autonomy – one should respect the right of individuals to make their own decisions
Nonmaleficence – one should avoid causing harm
Beneficence – one should take positive steps to help others
Justice – benefits and risks should be fairly distributed
One commentator has said, “…the four principles should…be thought of as the four moral nucleotides that constitute moral DNA – capable, alone or in combination, of explaining and justifying all the substantive and universalisable moral norms of health care ethics…”
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