Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

The ABC's of Medical Ethics

The articles in this section provide an introduction to many of the major issues in health care ethics with explanations of concepts such as autonomy, consequences, virtues, etc. They were all written by Margaret R. McLean, director of biotechnology and health care ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. The site also provides more in-depth coverage of topics in medical and clinical ethics and biotechnology and ethics, which can be accessed from the medical ethics articles page.

"A" Is for Autonomy
Autonomy is defined as the ability and responsibility to choose.

"B" Is for Beneficence
An example of "doing good" or beneficence in a health care context.

"C" is For Compassionate and Caring Community
An introduction to the virtue of compassion in a health care context.

"D" Is for Discussions, Decisions, and Directives
End-of-life decisions are aided by advance discussions and directives.

"E" Is for Everyday Ethics
While the big issues like cloning or end-of-life treatment may catch the headlines, we deal with important everyday ethical issues.

"F" Is for the Future
A discussion of consequences as an approach to ethics in a health care context.

"G" Is for Genes and Genomes
Genetic testing poses ethical problems for individuals who may learn they have an illness for which there is no treatment.

"H" Is for Heredity and Huntington's
An introduction to the ethics of genetic counseling and genetic testing.

"I" Is for Information
An introduction to confidentiality and informed consent.

"J" Is for Justice
What principles should guide the distribution of scarce medical resources such as organs for transplant?

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