David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 20 (4):329-346 (1999)
While there has been much discussion about the role of oaths in medical ethics, this discussion has previously centered on the content of various oaths. Little conceptual work has been done to clarify what an oath is, or to show how an oath differs from a promise or a code of ethics, or to explore what general role oath-taking by physicians might play in medical ethics. Oaths, like promises, are performative utterances. But oaths are generally characterized by their greater moral weight compared with promises, their public character, their validation by transcendent appeal, the involvement of the personhood of the swearer, the prescription of consequences for failure to uphold their contents, the generality of the scope of their contents, the prolonged time frame of the commitment, the fact that their moral force remains binding in spite of failures on the part of those to whom the swearer makes the commitment, and the fact that interpersonal fidelity is the moral hallmark of the commitment of the swearer. Oaths are also distinct from codes. Codes are collections of specific moral rules. Codes are not performative utterances. They do not commit future intentions and do not involve the personhood of the one enjoined by the code. Recent attacks on oath-taking by physicians are discussed. Two arguments in favor of oath-taking are presented: one on the basis of the nature of medicine as a profession and the other on the basis of rule-utilitarian considerations. No attempt is made to define which oath a physician should swear.
|Keywords||oaths codes medical ethics physicians profession|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Kevin Gary Behrens & Robyn Fellingham (2014). Great Expectations: Teaching Ethics to Medical Students in South Africa. Developing World Bioethics 14 (3):142-149.
Boudewijn de Bruin (forthcoming). Pledging Integrity: Oaths as Forms of Business Ethics Management. Journal of Business Ethics.
Similar books and articles
George DeMartino (2010). The Economist's Oath: On the Need for and Content of Professional Economic Ethics. Oxford University Press.
Y. Michael Barilan & Moshe Weintraub (2001). Pantagruelism: A Rabelaisian Inspiration for Understanding Poisoning, Euthanasia and Abortion in the Hippocratic Oath and in Contemporary Clinical Practice. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 22 (3):269-286.
Lisa Keränen (2001). The Hippocratic Oath as Epideictic Rhetoric: Reanimating Medicine's Past for Its Future. Journal of Medical Humanities 22 (1):55-68.
Chester R. Burns (ed.) (1977). Legacies in Ethics and Medicine. Science History Publications.
Michael Davis (2003). What Can We Learn by Looking for the First Code of Professional Ethics? Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 24 (5):433-454.
Shlomo Pines (1975). The Oath of Asaph the Physician and Yoḥanan Ben Zabda: Its Relation to the Hippocratic Oath and the Doctrina Duarum Viarum of the Didachē. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
Fabrice Jotterand (2005). The Hippocratic Oath and Contemporary Medicine: Dialectic Between Past Ideals and Present Reality? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (1):107 – 128.
Steven H. Miles (2004). The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine. Oxford University Press.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads29 ( #132,715 of 1,793,164 )
Recent downloads (6 months)9 ( #89,602 of 1,793,164 )
How can I increase my downloads?