Medicine as practical wisdom ( phronesis )

Poiesis and Praxis 1 (2):135-149 (2002)
Abstract
Modern medicine faces fundamental challenges that various approaches to the philosophy of medicine have tried to address. One of these approaches is based on the ancient concept of phronesis. This paper investigates whether this concept can be used as a moral basis for the challenges facing modern medicine and, in particular, analyses phronesis as it is applied in the works of Pellegrino and Thomasma. It scrutinises some difficulties with a phronesis-based theory, specifically, how it presupposes a moral community of professionals. It is argued that Pellegrino and Thomasma's concept of phronesis corresponds to a Hippocratic concept of t�chn�, and that this latter concept seems to address many of the challenging issues Pellegrino and Thomasma also address. Thus, if modern medicine is to find its philosophical model in ancient concepts, it appears that the Hippocratic t�chn� is closer to the ancient concept of medicine than the Aristotelian phronesis, and that it might avoid many of the pitfalls of a phronesis-based approach
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