The idea of the absurd and the moral decision. Possibilities and limits of a physician's actions in the view of the absurd
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 15 (3) (1994)
In reference to two central concepts of Albert Camus' philosophy, that is, the absurd and the rebellion, this article examines to what extent hisThe Plague is of interest to medical ethics. The interpretation of this novel put forward in this article focuses on the main character of the novel, the physician Dr. Rieux. For Rieux, the plague epidemic, as it is described in the novel, implies an unquestioning commitment to his patients and fellow men. According to Camus this epidemic has to be understood as a symbol of the absurd. Unable to base his actions on a Christian, metaphysical value system, Rieux sees his commitment as a continuous rebellion against the fact of the absurd, which opposes him in the form of evil, suffering and death. As a physician, Rieux is therefore forced to adjust his actions to life in its immediacy, that is, the suffering of his patients. In this article, it will be shown that Rieux's attention to the immediate is of particular interest to medical ethics: Theother person in need, rather thanmy moral convictions, sets the norm.
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