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Hirsch, Anna (2021): Wohlergehen – mehr als nur Gesundheit? In: Ethik in der Medizin, Vol. 33, No. 1: pp. 71-88

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Definition of the problem The medical-ethical principle of beneficence is directed towards the well-being of patients. In clinical practice, the focus is often on the relief of pain, the elimination of symptoms and the restoration of bodily functioning. However, the significance of these health-related aspects for the overall well-being of patients also depends on individual values, desires, and life plans. Argumentation An overemphasis on the subjective perspective of patients on their well-being would admittedly lead to a strong substantial convergence of the two medical-ethical principles of beneficence and respect for autonomy. In addition, it would not be compatible with some of the guiding principles of the medical profession. A mere objective perspective on patient well-being conversely carries the danger of imposing values on individual patients that they do not share. Consequently, actions that are intended to benefit patients instead harm them. Conclusion Through a more detailed analysis of the relationship between health-related and overall well-being, this paper shows that health is only a relative value in our overall well-being. Basic health-related goods like a sound cardiovascular system or fully functioning lungs have special standing because they are seen as valuable independently of individual preferences and life plans, which means they are of objective value.

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