Some things ought never be done: Moral absolutes in clinical ethics [Book Review]

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 26 (6):469-486 (2005)
Moral absolutes have little or no moral standing in our morally diverse modern society. Moral relativism is far more palatable for most ethicists and to the public at large. Yet, when pressed, every moral relativist will finally admit that there are some things which ought never be done. It is the rarest of moral relativists that will take rape, murder, theft, child sacrifice as morally neutral choices. In general ethics, the list of those things that must never be done will vary from person to person. In clinical ethics, however, the nature of the physician–patient relationship is such that certain moral absolutes are essential to the attainment of the good of the patient – the end of the relationship itself. These are all derivatives of the first moral absolute of all morality: Do good and avoid evil. In the clinical encounter, this absolute entails several subsidiary absolutes – act for the good of the patient, do not kill, keep promises, protect the dignity of the patient, do not lie, avoid complicity with evil. Each absolute is intrinsic to the healing and helping ends of the clinical encounter.
Keywords clinical encounter  dignity  moral absolute  moral relativism  physician–patient relationship  The good of the patient
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11017-005-2201-2
 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: 23,201
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
Peter Singer (1993). Practical Ethics. Cambridge University Press.
Michael Tooley (1972). Abortion and Infanticide. Philosophy and Public Affairs 2 (1):37-65.
Tom L. Beauchamp (2003). A Defense of the Common Morality. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 13 (3):259-274.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

364 ( #6,099 of 1,940,955 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

68 ( #4,859 of 1,940,955 )

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.