Virtue and the Practice of Medicine

Edmund D. Pellegrino and David C. Thomasma analyze the virtues that are especially relevant to the practice of good medicine. Their account of the virtues and medicine is complemented by Alasdair MacIntyre’s recent analysis of human development and the acquisition of the moral and intellectual virtues. These two accounts contribute toward analyzing the historical constitution of social practices and relationships in medicine. In particular, the moral and intellectual virtues characteristic of good medicine are acquired and exercised within those healing relationships featured in Pellegrino’s and Thomasma’s phenomenology of medicine. Examining their account of medical practice in light of MacIntyre’s more recent work suggests, however, that their theory of the good of the patient and their understanding of the relation of virtue to altruism and self-interest stand in need of further development
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