Neuro-ethics or neuro-values? Delusion and religious experience as a case study in values-based medicine

Poiesis and Praxis 2 (4):297-313 (2004)
Abstract
Values-Based Medicine (VBM) is the theory and practice of clinical decision-making for situations in which legitimately different values are in play. VBM is thus to values what Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) is to facts. The theoretical basis of VBM is a branch of analytic philosophy called philosophical value theory. As a set of practical tools, VBM has been developed to meet the challenges of value diversity as they arise particularly in psychiatry. These challenges are illustrated in this paper by a case study of the differential diagnosis between delusion and religious experience. In a traditional model of scientific medicine, such challenges would be expected to become less pressing with advances in medical science. Philosophical value theory suggests, to the contrary, that scientific progress, through opening up an ever-wider range of choices, will increasingly bring the full range and diversity of human values into play not just in psychiatry but in all areas of medicine. The future, then, for medicine, is an integrated model in which VBM and EBM are equal partners in a genuinely human discipline
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