Dillon_102407 - Professor Robin S Dillon Department of...

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Professor Robin S. Dillon Department of Philosophy Lehigh University A Framework for Moral Reasoning and Decision-Making in Bioethics 1 I. Morality Morality is a universally valid and applicable , impartial , rationally justified system for making decisions and judgments about actions, a system that 1. has a defining goal = minimizing the amount of harm suffered by those under its protection and, to the extent possible and of secondary importance, promoting the goods obtainable by those under its protection 2. specifies basic harms and goods 3. advocates, in the service of the defining goal, constraints on actions 4. specifies a domain of application a. for constraints on action = all moral agents , who are all rational persons who can act for reasons and for the best reasons, can understand the moral system, and can be responsible for her/his actions b. for protection = at least all moral agents + all former moral agents who can still experience harms (including incompetent but not permanently unconscious persons + all post-birth potential moral agents (infants and children) 5. Justifies constraints on actions through a. identification of general moral rules prohibitions against causing or increasing harms b. identification of general moral ideals encouragements but not requirements to prevent or reduce harms 6. identifies morally significant features that a. identify a situation as one in which a moral decision/judgment has to be made and so in which moral rules and ideals are applicable, and b. must be taken into account in making a moral decision/judgment 7. specifies a procedure for determining if actions are morally right or wrong, or morally acceptable or unacceptable 8. claims to be overriding of other concerns
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II. Four Key Elements of Morality A. Basic Harms and Goods 1. harm = what all rational person want to avoid unless they have an adequate reason not to = morally bad
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