The hippocratic oath and contemporary medicine: Dialectic between past ideals and present reality?

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (1):107 – 128 (2005)
The Hippocratic Oath, the Hippocratic tradition, and Hippocratic ethics are widely invoked in the popular medical culture as conveying a direction to medical practice and the medical profession. This study critically addresses these invocations of Hippocratic guideposts, noting that reliance on the Hippocratic ethos and the Oath requires establishingwhat the Oath meant to its author, its original community of reception, and generally for ancient medicine what relationships contemporary invocations of the Oath and the tradition have to the original meaning of the Oath and its original reception what continuity exists and under what circumstances over the last two-and-a-half millenniums of medical-moral reflections what continuity there is in the meaning of professionalism from the time of Hippocrates to the 21st century, and what social factors in particular have transformed the medical profession in particular countries. This article argues that the resources for a better understanding of medical professionalism lie not in the Hippocratic Oath, tradition, or ethos in and of themselves. Rather, it must be found in a philosophy of medicine that explores the values internal to medicine, thus providing a medical-moral philosophy so as to be able to resist the deformation of medical professionalism by bioethics, biopolitics, and governmental regulation. The Oath, as well as Stephen H. Miles' recent monograph, The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine, are employed as heuristics, so as to throw into better light the extent to which the Hippocratic Oath, tradition, and ethics can provide guidance and direction, as well as to show the necessity of taking seriously the need for a substantive philosophy of medicine.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 14,242
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Arthur L. Caplan (1992). Does the Philosophy of Medicine Exist? Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 13 (1):67-77.
Julia E. Connelly (2003). The Other Side of Professionalism: Doctor-to-Doctor. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 12 (02):178-183.
Robert M. Veatch (2001). The Impossibility of a Morality Internal to Medicine. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 26 (6):621 – 642.
Citations of this work BETA
Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

37 ( #73,446 of 1,699,801 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #128,702 of 1,699,801 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.