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Ethics and Epidemiology$
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Steven S. Coughlin, Tom L. Beauchamp, and Douglas L. Weed

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195322934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195322934.001.0001

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Ethics in Public Health Practice

Ethics in Public Health Practice

Chapter:
(p.147) 8 Ethics in Public Health Practice
Source:
Ethics and Epidemiology
Author(s):

Robert E. McKeown

R. Max Learner

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195322934.003.0008

This chapter outlines a perspective that can serve as a foundation for addressing ethical concerns in public health practice. It argues that ethics in public health practice is shaped by the mission of public health and that the ethical obligations of public health practitioners are grounded in their commitment to that mission and in their voluntary assumption of responsibility for the public's health. Society also has an interest in the public's health and that endorsement provides partial justification for infringing on certain individual rights for the sake of the common good. Though public health ethics is not as highly developed as clinical ethics, research ethics, or other subfields of bioethics, recent developments have made clear that it must make use of bioethical methods and concepts and incorporate ethical reasoning in decision-making processes. The resulting public health ethics will include expanded or modified concepts of justice and respect for persons, human rights, communitarianism, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics.

Keywords:   ethics, public health practice, bioethics, decision-making, human rights, communitarianism, virtue ethics

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