The promises and perils of pragmatism: Commentary on Fins, Bacchetta, and Miller

Abstract
: Fins, Bacchetta, and Miller's clinical pragmatism has several appealing features: an emphasis on dialogue, a commitment to consensus, a focus on particular individuals rather than persons in general, and a strong interest in the process as well as the product of moral decision making. Nevertheless, for all its protests to the contrary, clinical pragmatism has a tendency to privilege medical facts over nonmedical values, to conflate appropriate medical decisions with right moral decisions, and to conceive problems at the bedside in terms of "getting" patients and families to "go along" with the treatment plans of clinicians. In sum, there is within clinical pragmatism the potential for physicians to take back some of the power they ceded to patients during the height of the patients' rights and autonomy movement. Provided that clinicians guard against the temptation to use clinical pragmatism manipulatively, however, the method promises, more than most other methods of moral problem solving, to help increasingly diverse individuals make good moral decisions about patients' care under conditions of enormous uncertainty
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K. A. Wallace (2009). Common Morality and Moral Reform. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 30 (1):55-68.
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