Principlism and Normative Systems

  • Óscar VergaraEmail author
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 70)


Principlism is a highly remarkable contribution to the field of Bioethics and hence it has become the most prevalent theoretical model in western contemporary Bioethics. The aim of this chapter is to assess it under the perspective of normative systems. Regardless its important achievements, the main difficulties that have been identified are the following. First, it does not succeed to justify the normativity of the model, considering the historical character of the common morality. Second, the principlist systemic basis shows some problems regarding its formal properties (wholeness, consistency and independence). Third, the deployment of the system through specification is actually a determination activity and this necessarily implies a break of the logical link between the initial norm and the specified one. Fourth, if narrow reflective equilibrium shows a remarkable problem of relativity, wide reflective equilibrium can neither solve important problems, among others to overcome the hermeneutical circle.


Moral Agent Advance Directive Normative System Reflective Equilibrium Biomedical Ethic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidade da CoruñaA CoruñaSpain

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