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Cross-cultural Issues in European Bioethics

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European biomedical ethics is often contrasted to American autonomy-based approaches, and both are usually distinguished as ‘Western’. But at least three ‘different voices’ within European bioethics can be identified:

The deontological codes of southern Europe (and Ireland), in which the patient has a positive duty to maximise his or her own health and to follow the doctor’s instructions, whilst the physician is constrained more by professional norms than by patient rights

The liberal, rights-based models of Western Europe, in which the patient retains the negative right to override medical opinion, even if his or her mental capacity is in doubt

The social welfarist models of the Nordic countries, which concentrate on positive rights and entitlements to universal healthcare provision and entrust dispute resolution to non-elected administrative officials
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Medical Ethics Unit, Imperial College School of Medicine

Publication date: 1999-07-01

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