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South African Dental Journal

versão On-line ISSN 0375-1562
versão impressa ISSN 0011-8516


MINIGGIO, HD; MOTLOBA, PD  e  WAREHAM, CS. The renaissance of virtue ethics and its application in dentistry. S. Afr. dent. j. [online]. 2020, vol.75, n.6, pp.334-338. ISSN 0375-1562.

Virtue ethics, an ethical theory that focuses on concepts of how to live a good life and the characteristic traits or virtues of individuals, has enjoyed increasing popularity and considerable re-emergence in ethical assessment in various healthcare disciplines. This popularity is, in part, attributable to its contrasting approach to the more formalized rule-based approaches to ethical assessment in healthcare practice. The formalization of ethical healthcare practice (presented as the four principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice) coupled with various codes of ethics, has led to a considerable focus and reliance on rules and obligations. A significant limitation of this type of approach arises from the difficulty in choosing which principle takes greater priority, in cases in which two or more principles are in conflict. What is more, in this rule-oriented approach, motivations of individuals, characteristic traits and relationships, which are important aspects in ethical deliberations, have taken a back seat. Against this background we describe and propose the incorporation of a virtue ethics approach, with a focus on the character and motivations of the individual or agent, as part of ethical deliberations in the practice of dentistry.

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