An argument for the use of Aristotelian method in bioethics

ALLMARK, P. J. (2006). An argument for the use of Aristotelian method in bioethics. Medicine, health care and philosophy, 9 (1), 69-79.

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Link to published version:: 10.1007/s11019-005-7225-x


The main claim of this paper is that the method outlined and used in Aristotle's Ethics is an appropriate and credible one to use in bioethics. Here “appropriate” means that the method is capable of establishing claims and developing concepts in bioethics and “credible” that the method has some plausibility, it is not open to obvious and immediate objection. It begins by suggesting why this claim matters and then gives a brief outline of Aristotle's method. The main argument is made in three stages. First, it is argued that Aristotelian method is credible because it compares favourably with alternatives. In this section it is shown that Aristotelian method is not vulnerable to criticisms that are made both of methods that give a primary place to moral theory (such as utilitarianism) and those that eschew moral theory (such as casuistry and social science approaches). As such, it compares favourably with these other approaches that are vulnerable to at least some of these criticisms. Second, the appropriateness of Aristotelian method is indicated through outlining how it would deal with a particular case. Finally, it is argued that the success of Aristotle's philosophy is suggestive of both the credibility and appropriateness of his method.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this paper has been published in Medicine, health care and philosophy, 9(1), 2006 © Springer. The original publication is available at
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aristotelian ethics, Aristotle, bioethics, method, virtue ethics
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Identification Number: 10.1007/s11019-005-7225-x
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2008
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2015 17:59

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