In his paper, Professor Lo Ping Cheung complains that bioethics is under the undue influence of liberal individualism. He argues that in prioritizing individual autonomy, the United Nations’ “Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights” (2005) and the International Bioethics Committee’s “Proposed Outline for a Report on Respect for Human Vulnerability and Personal Integrity” (2009) not only allow but also advocate egoistic behavior. In contrast to Lo’s view, in advocating family co-determinism in healthcare, Confucian bioethics is in a better position to provide primary protection to the vulnerable.
To defend the Declaration (2005) I draw on the IBC Report (2011) and argue that in enshrining the principle of respect for human vulnerability and personal integrity as a universal value in bioethics, the Declaration seeks to prompt greater solidity between moral strangers and different stakeholders in healthcare and research and the application of emerging technologies in the biomedical sciences. I also argue that the family may fail to protect “the vulnerable,” as vulnerability is a human condition and it occurs in the context of healthcare as a result of personal disability, in addition to environmental burdens and social injustice.