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Journal of Education Technology in Health Sciences

The Benefits & Burdens of Importing Bioethical Principles' Approach

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Author Details: DeenDayal B. Reddy, B.Sc. (India), MS, MA, PhD (USA)

Volume : 4

Issue : 2

Online ISSN : 2393-8005

Print ISSN : 2454-4396

Article First Page : 78

Article End Page : 83


A teachable point of this paper is that we cannot hurriedly pedal our way through the portals of the Internet and get enlightened about bioethics. Just like any other subject in medicine, bioethics needs to be studied seriously and taught systematically. In view of the growing demand for western ethics, in India, this paper will focus primarily on the benefits and burdens of importing bioethics, under four sections. Section I, considers the reasons for relying on western ethical principles and paradigms. Section II, highlights the pros and cons of such reliance. Section III, offers credible reasons why India’s ethical heritage has not stepped up to the plate and produced a meaningful treatise on medical ethics. Section IV, suggests how we may expand the reach and repertoire of the bioethical principles. A two-fold theme runs through the sections: (a) There exists an internal vacuum where the indigenous methods of moral enquiry have become sterile; (b) This vacuum can be filled by a systematic study of bioethics—besides importing the Four Principles’ Approach (FPA). As with any import, FPA comes with its share of burdens and benefits. The burdens include reducing the principles as conscious-raising ceremonials or as contradictio in adjecto. The benefits include extending the reach and repertoire of the principles. To wit: The bioethical principle of beneficence encompasses a fiduciary duty towards moral strangers besides family or friends; the principle of nonmaleficence includes offences against fellow human beings other than cows or trees; justice supports both fair-play and natural rights; and respect for autonomy is attuned to the inherent moral worth than the material worth of a human person. Perhaps the ultimate benefit, of studying bioethics systematically, is that it helps us to ascertain whether the ethical thought inherited under the aegis of history, recent or remote, is as ineffectual as ancient surgery or as precious as ancient sculpture. If it is the former, we should be wrong to take it seriously; if the latter, to lose it would impoverish us.

Keywords: Bioethical Principles; Four Principles’ Approach; Autonomy; Beneficence; Justice; Nonmaleficence; Indian Ethics; Swarājy-ka-āadar; Daya, Upakaar; Nyāya; Ahimsa