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Beauchamp & Childress (PBE:3-4) – moralidade comum

quarta-feira 26 de agosto de 2020, por Cardoso de Castro


There are core tenets in every acceptable particular morality that are not relative to cultures, groups, or individuals. All persons living a moral life know several rules that are usually binding: not to lie, not to steal others’ property, to keep promises, to respect the rights of others, and not to kill or cause harm to others. All persons committed to morality do not doubt the relevance and importance of these universally valid rules. Violation of these norms is unethical and will both generate feelings of remorse and provoke the moral censure of others. The literature of biomedical ethics virtually never debates the merit or acceptability of these central moral norms, though debates do occur about their precise meaning, scope, weight, and strength, often in regard to hard moral cases or current practices that merit careful scrutiny.

We will call the set of universal norms shared by all persons committed to morality the common morality. It is not merely a morality, in contrast to other moralities. [1] The common morality is applicable to all persons in all places, and we rightly judge all human conduct by its standards. The following norms are examples (far from a complete list) of generally binding standards of action (rules of obligation) found in the common morality: (1) Do not kill, (2) Do not cause pain or suffering to others, (3) Prevent evil or harm from occurring, (4) Rescue persons in danger, (5) Tell the truth, (6) Nurture the young and dependent, (7) Keep your promises, (8) Do not steal, (9) Do not punish the innocent, and (10) Obey just laws.

The common morality contains, in addition, standards other than rules of obligation. Here are ten examples of moral character traits, or virtues, recognized in the common morality (again, not a complete list): (1) nonmalevolence, (2) honesty, (3) integrity, (4) conscientiousness, (5) trustworthiness, (6) fidelity, (7) gratitude, (8) truthfulness, (9) lovingness, and (10) kindness. These virtues are universally admired traits of character. [2] A person is deficient in moral character if he or she lacks such traits. Negative traits that are the opposite of these virtues are vices (malevolence, dishonesty, lack of integrity, cruelty, etc.). They are universally recognized as substantial moral defects. In this chapter we will say no more about character and the virtues and vices, reserving this area of investigation for Chapter 2.

[4] In addition to the vital obligations and virtues just mentioned, the common morality supports human rights and endorses many moral ideals such as charity and generosity. Philosophers debate whether one of these regions of the moral life—obligations, rights, or virtues—is more basic or more valuable than another, but in the common morality there is no reason to give primacy to any one area or type of norm. For example, human rights should not be considered more basic than moral virtues in universal morality, and moral ideals should not be less esteemed merely because people are not obligated to conform to them. An undue emphasis on any one of these areas disregards the full scope of the common morality. [3]

Our account of universal morality in this chapter and Chapter 10 does not conceive of the common morality as ahistorical or a priori. [4] This problem in moral theory cannot be adequately engaged until our discussions in Chapter 10, and we offer now only four simple clarifications of our position: First, the common morality is a product of human experience and history and is a universally shared product. The origin of the norms of the common morality is no different in principle from the origin of the norms of a particular morality for a profession. Both are learned and transmitted in communities. The primary difference is that the common morality has authority in all communities, [5] whereas particular moralities are authoritative only for specific groups. Second, we accept moral pluralism in particular moralities, as discussed later in this chapter, but we reject moral pluralism (or relativism) in the common morality. No particular way of life qualifies as morally acceptable unless it conforms to the standards in the common morality. Third, the common morality comprises moral beliefs (what all morally committed persons believe), not standards that exist prior to moral belief. Fourth, explications of the common morality—in books such as this one—are historical products, and every theory of the common morality has a history of development by the author(s) of the theory.

Ver online : Principles of Biomedical Ethics (7th edition)

[1Although there is only one universal common morality, there is more than one theory of the common morality. For a diverse group of recent theories, see Alan Donagan, The Theory of Morality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977); Bernard Gert, Common Morality: Deciding What to Do [26] (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); Bernard Gert, Charles M. Culver, and K. Danner Clouser, Bioethics: A Return to Fundamentals, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); W. D. Ross, The Foundations of Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1939); and the special issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 13 (2003), especially the introductory article by Robert Veatch, pp. 189-92.

[2Compare the thesis of Martha Nussbaum that, in an Aristotelian philosophy, certain “non-relative virtues” are objective and universal. “Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach,” in Ethical Theory, Character, and Virtue, ed. Peter French et al. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), pp. 32-53, especially pp. 33-4,46-50.

[3For an exceedingly broad account of common morality, see Rebecca Kukla, “Living with Pirates: Common Morality and Embodied Practice,” forthcoming in Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. See also Bernard Gert’s insistence on the role of the whole moral system and the perils of neglecting it. Morality: Its Nature and Justification (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 3,159-61,246-47; and his “The Definition of Morality,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002; revision of February 11, 2008, (accessed March 15,2009).

[4This charge is mistakenly directed at us by Leigh Turner, “Zones of Consensus and Zones of Conflict: Questioning the ‘Common Morality’ Presumption in Bioethics,” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 13 (2003): 193-218; and Turner, “An Anthropological Exploration of Contemporary Bioethics: The Varieties of Common Sense,” Journal of Medical Ethics 24 (1998): 127-33.

[5At least it does in all cultures in which there is the requisite core of morally committed persons.