Examining the Suitability of the Principle of Subsidiarity for Bioethics
Allocation of Health Care Resources
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AbstractThe political and social principle of subsidiarity can be useful as a general principle of bioethics. The principle states that only those decisions and tasks that cannot be effectively decided upon or performed by a supported or subsidized lower level authority ought to be relegated to a more central or higher authority. The concept of subsidiarity has been embedded tacitly in Western political thought for two millennia, but it has been articulated expressly only in the twentieth century. The principle has unique strengths: it is the only principle that addresses the issue of locus of decision making; it is strongly linked to human dignity, democracy, and solidarity; and it can assist in reaching agreements on the common good. There are also potential drawbacks that need to be taken into account when developing rules and guidelines for the principle's application in bioethics. The principle is particularly helpful in public health ethics, but it is also of use in the ethics of personal care and human research ethics.
Kennedy Institute of Ethics journal 2010 Dec; 20(4): 371-90