Sample Health Care Paper on Bioethical Decisions

Bioethical Decisions

Healthcare providers have s particular duty of caring for their patients and the society. It is largely conceived that service providers act in the best interest of their clients, although conflicts sometimes emerge between obligation to patient and social expectations. In professional practice, the physician interests for the patient may conflict with their wishes or consent. Ethical theories stipulate an ordered code of moral standards that apply to determine what is morally right and morally inept regarding human actions and behaviors in general. It is critical that practitioners understand the essential ethical theories and their application to resolve ethical dilemmas in service delivery.

Teleology and Utilitarianism

Derived from the Greek word for goals, Telos, teleological theories emphasize the outcomes of an action as the primary step to determine its morality. This consequentialist approach considers moral theories to inform reviews of acts primarily on outcomes. Teleological theories determine the rightness or wrongness of an act depending on the good and bad effects. The most prominent form of teleology is utilitarianism that stipulates one to act for the greatest good for the greatest number of people (Mandal, et al. 5). The utilitarianism ethical theory defines an action right if it produces substantial happiness for the most people. Hedonistic utilitarian’s define utility in terms of pleasure, which is interpreted as the absence of pain. In this context, the value of wellbeing is assessed in terms of satisfaction, happiness, or pleasure. This ethical principle posits that professionals produce the maximal balance of positive value. The universal moral truth that is the ultimate standard of correctness and wrongness for utilitarian’s states actions are right in proportion because to promote happiness, even they may produce the opposite of happiness. Tus it is demand to produce the most significant balance of good over evil.

In contemporary deliberations, there emerges two forms of utilitarianism; act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. Under act utilitarianism, one must evaluate the positive and negative outcomes of an action. On the other hand, rule utilitarianism considers the impacts of adopting certain rules that act utilitarian disregard to justify one actions by direct appeal the principle of utility. In the context of rule utilitarianism, a moral code determines which rules, rather than conceivable alternatives, if generally implemented would produce the greatest good. Thus, actions are morally apt if they align with the set of established rules.

Deontology (Duty Ethics)

Deontological theories challenges most of the things utilitarian theorists affirm. Deontology is derived from Greek terms meaning the science of duty. Deontology encompasses applying the same rule for everyone in similar situations. Championed by Emmanuel Kant, the deontological morality theory provides a rational framework of agreed principles that guide morality and the principles that prescribe various duties (Mandal, et al. 5). Kant’s categorical imperative states that individual actions should be in such a way that one’s maxim becomes a universal law. This connotation compares with the golden rule of doing unto others what you would have do unto you. The second notion posits that individuals act in the way they always treat humanity not simply as a means, but always as an end. Kant is a strong advocate of truth and strict conformity to duty, which provides an unconditional bond. Unlike utilitarianism, an act of lying is evil since it harms the dignity and discourse of humans

Virtue Ethics

The virtue ethic strand is about being good. Virtue ethics divers the analytical emphasis from rule-based decision making as proposed by deontological theories or consequentialism of utilitarianism towards the concepts of individual ad the ethics of human character. Virtue ethicist emphasize acts of desirable traits such as benevolence or charity (Kotzee, et al. 12). Other admirable characteristics comprise mercy, patience, loyalty, courage, modesty, and friendship.  Virtue ethics seeks to maximize happiness, which it perceives in a highly personal way and is fundamentally tied to practicing and cultivating primary virtues (Kotzee, et al. 15). Fronted by Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato, this ethical proposition states that the primary objective is to enhance the human spirit, mind, and body to the greatest potential possible by practicing virtues like temperance, justice, prudence, and fortitude.

The Ethics of Care

The concept of care ethics is a feminist philosophical proposition that utilizes relational and context-bound meanings to morality and decision making. The concept of care ethics implies the idea regarding the nature of normative ethical theory and morality. The care ethic perspective contrasts the ethical theories that utilize principles to define the morality of actions such as deontology, justice theory, utilitarianism and is not absolute and incontrovertible. A major proponent of the care ethic, Nel Noddings alludes caring is the basis of morality (Amer). Because the impulse to care is universal, the ethics of caring is free from the bounds of moral relativism to the equal degrees with virtue ethics. Nodding states that a relation consists of two parties, the one caring and the one being cared for. What is distinctive in these relations is that the one offering care responds to a perceived need of the cared for (Amer). In determining how to respond accordingly, the service provider uses a problem-solving mode to guide the particular relationship and context to avoid tripping for impartial, abstract, and impersonal reasoning of utilitarian, deontology, and other rule-based theories.

The Relational-Responsibility Ethics

Relational ethics posits that some relationship in the healthcare setting are better that other because they foster growth, recovery, and better health outcomes. These are the kind of relationships that healthcare professional conduct that align with a presupposition of the availability of a concrete other, besides the general other (Amer). Proponents of these approach deconstruct these relationships to understand the vital elements of ethical relationships. The founding principles of relational ethics include respect, engagement, knowledge, uncertainty, embodied, and environment. The most significant of these values is mutual respect and closely augmented by engagement (Amer). In the relational ethics context, responsibility guides the interactions with each other to precipitate ethical action. An in-depth understanding of relationships with others and appropriate actions requires for an evaluation of the universal principles, traditions, rationality, interconnectedness, and subjectivity. The primary tenet of relational ethics is that ethical actions happen within the context of relationships. This marks a massive shift from previous biomedical regimes that view the individual as a static bearer of rights to perceive the patient and service providers as interacting agents (Amer). In this context, the service user and healthcare professional must interact with each other guided by moral responsibilities and norms. It is vital that personal identity or the humanness of individuals remain unchanged for moral course to avoid dehumanizing people and denying them a capacity of moral subjects to determine the intentions and outcomes of actions.

Ethical Absolutism and Relativism

The concept of ethical absolutism postulates that standards are always genuine. However, relativism opines morality occurs within contexts of situations. Thus, absolutism champions equality while relativism campaigns for equity. Absolutism hold that moral values are constant despite the people, time, and place involved (Amer). In this context, certain standards are less or greater than another moral absolute. The advantage of absolutism is the vital assessment of ethics and maintaining equality because rules apply to diverse societies. A popular example of absolutism is the Kantian ethic that prescribes an action worthy if the principle behind it is apt.

Relativism on the other hand imposes a moral standard depended on context because nothing is naturally wrong or right. This perspective is largely applicable in contemporary society. The advantages of relativism encompass the recognition of diversity and gray areas on morality (Amer). However, its inadequacies comprise reducing the value of an action from being morally right to mere social acceptability. For instance, some societies practice abortion while it begs the appropriateness of tolerating such actions.


A major question perturbing medical ethicists is how best to describe the components of good medical practices and the appropriate medical decisions. Action-based ethicists see the best practices as comprising those that generate the greatest outcomes for service users and the society. Deontological proponents opine acting in accordance with ethical principle and set rules. In contrast, character-based ethicists such as virtue ethics perceive actions right if they emerge from virtuous moral behavior of the healthcare provider. Distinctively, the virtue ethics in healthcare enables professionals to maintain a moral character and promote the wellbeing of the patient. Medical virtue ethicist cites three reasons why the character-based approach provides a more realistic and practice-guided approach of understanding good medical stances than rule-based systems. One reason is that rules are too abstract and general to stipulate moral behavior. Virtue ethicists opine that principles should be decoded within their context, which requires virtues like good moral judgement and perceptiveness. A second reason is that rules set typically minimum standards for what qualifies as good thus encouraging an attitude of mere compliance with established standards. Contrastingly, virtue ethics in healthcare are excellence-based and concern how personal virtues illustrated by physicians enhance the good of patients to the highest possible level. Lastly, there are similarities between the real practice of clinical judgement and wise ethical decisions. In this context, virtue ethics are better positioned that rule-based theories to understand the evaluations of goals, benefits, and alternatives that encompass appropriate decision-making. Besides, virtue ethics bind medical ethics closer to ideal medical practices compared to teleological or deontological theories.



Works Cited

Amer, Ahmed B. “Understanding the Ethical Theories in Medical Practice.” SCIRP Open Access, 2019,

Kotzee, Ben, et al. “Virtue in Medical Practice: An Exploratory Study.” HEC Forum, vol. 29, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-19.

Mandal, Jharna, et al. “Utilitarian and deontological ethics in medicine.” Tropical Parasitology, vol. 6, no. 1, 2016, p. 5.