Example of an analysis applying specifying norms:
A normative analysis should clarify the debate on whether normalization is appropriate criterion to assess the value of treatments of children with autism. In general there is agreement on that any treatment should protect and improve the well-being of children. But there is disagreement on what this means for the potential treatment of children with autism. The issue seems to raise an ethical dilemma, where to general norms (their specifications) are competing with each other. Proponents of autism treatment that aims to normalize behaviour advocate that this is essential to someone’s quality of life because it aids in social communication and building important relationships. Opponents of this view highlight the importance of respecting diversity, in behaviour and personality, and that autism related behaviour should be respected as part of one’s identify.
Therefore, the following general norms seem to be at play:
I. Beneficence: treatment should have the well-being of a patient as its only goal.
II. Respect for autonomy: treatment should respect the autonomy, and integrity, of the patient.
Healthcare providers should act in the best interest of persons who have been entrusted to their care
… by treating patients according to their best interest
… by proving treatment to patients with no discernible preferences that provides them with the best balance of expected benefits over burdens
… by providing treatment to children with autism that normalizes their behaviour.
Healthcare providers should respect the autonomy of patients
… by respecting someone’s identity of which behaviour is a part
… by allowing someone’s behaviour to deviate from social norms unless it harms himself or other people
… by rejecting treatment of children with autism that normalizes their behaviour.
A re-specification of these general norms, that aims to resolve the conflict, could emphasize that respecting someone’s autonomy, and allowing people to develop their own identify, could improve their well-being, whereas part of respecting someone’s autonomy is that you should allow someone to build important relationships (which demands certain behaviour and adaption to social norms) because it helps in developing your own personality.