as a middle principle, the principle of beneficence (and nonmaleficence) is the basis for certain specific moral norms (which vary depending on how one defines "goodness"). some of the specific norms that arise from the principle of beneficence in the catholic tradition
are: 1) never deliberately kill innocent human life (which, in the medical context, must be distinguished from foregoing disproportionate means
); 2) never deliberately (directly intend) harm; 3) seek the patient’s good; 4) act out of charity
; 5) respect the patient’s religious beliefs and value system in accord with the principle of religious freedom
; 6) always seek the higher good, that is, never neglect one good except to pursue a proportionately greater or more important good; 7) never knowingly commit or approve an objectively evil
action; 8) do not treat others paternalistically
but help them to pursue their goals; 9) use wisdom and prudence in all things, that is, appreciate the complexity of life and make sound judgments for the good of oneself, others, and the common good
in general, the common good consists of all the conditions of society and the goods secured by those conditions, which allow individuals to achieve human and spiritual flourishing. the social teaching of the catholic church insists that the human community, including its government, must be actively concerned in promoting the health and welfare of every one of its members so that each member can contribute to the common good of all. this teaching is encapsulated in the principle of the common good and its corollary principle of subsidiarity
. according to this understanding, the principle of the common good has three essential elements: 1) respect for persons; 2) social welfare; and 3) peace and security.
all three of these elements entail the provision of health care in some way as an essential element of the common good.
so far as the common good presupposes respect for persons, it obligates public authorities to respect the fundamental human rights
of each person. society should allow each of its members to fulfill his or her vocation. insofar as it presupposes social welfare, the common good requires that the infrastructure of society is conducive to the social well being and development of its individual members. in this respect, it is the proper function of public authorities to both arbitrate between competing interests and
to ensure that individual members of society have access to the basic goods that are necessary for living a truly human life, e.g., food, clothing,health care,
meaningful work, education, etc. finally, this conception of the common good requires the peace and security that accompanies a just social order. public authority, then, should be used to ensure, by morally acceptable means, the security of society and its individual members.
right to healthcare, the
from the perspective of catholic moral teaching, the "right to health care" for all is not an optional stance. rather, the right to health care is a human right
founded on human dignity
and the common good
. considered as such, health care is more than a commodity in so far as it is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity that ought to be provided for and to everyone.
this absolute right to health care, however, should not be understood as an unlimited entitlement, but as a right that carries with it corresponding duties
and the common good.