One of the first areas of ethical concern in medicine was the neonatal intensive care unit. Questions first seen in this context soon entered the discourse of bioethical debate. The history of the ethics of neonatal care is described from the context of neonatology, and the emerging principles are outlined.
The famous first aphorism of Hippocrates, "Life is short, the art is long" was long considered a perfect summary of medical ethics. Modern physicians find the words impossible to understand. But it can be interpreted as a fundamental insight into the ethical problems of modern medicine. The technology of modern scientific medicine can sustain life, even when life is losing its vitality. How should decisions be made about the use of technology and by whom? This is the incessant question of (...) modern medical ethics. (shrink)
Bioethics represents a dramatic revision of the centuries-old professional ethics that governed the behavior of physicians and their relationships with patients. This venerable ethics code was challenged in the years after World War II by the remarkable advances in the biomedical sciences and medicine that raised questions about the definition of death, the use of life-support systems, organ transplantation, and reproductive interventions. In response, philosophers and theologians, lawyers and social scientists joined together with physicians and scientists to rethink and revise (...) the old standards. Governments established commissions to recommend policies. Courts heard arguments and legislatures passed laws. This book is the first broad history of the growing field of bioethics. Covering the period 1947-1987, it examines the origin and evolution of the debates over human experimentation, genetic engineering, organ transplantation, termination of life-sustaining treatment, and new reproductive technologies. It assesses the contributions of philosophy, theology, law and the social sciences to the expanding discourse of bioethics. Written by one of the field's founders, The Birth of Bioethics is based on extensive archival research into sources that are difficult to obtain and on interviews with many of the leading figures in the moral debates in medicine. A very readable and comprehensive account of the evolution of bioethics, this book stresses the history of ideas but does not neglect the social and cultural context and the people involved. It will serve the information needs of philosophers, ethicists, social historians, and everyone interested in the origins of some of today's most hotly debated issues. (shrink)
A physician says, "I have an ethical obligation never to cause the death of a patient," another responds, "My ethical obligation is to relieve pain even if the patient dies." The current argument over the role of physicians in assisting patients to die constantly refers to the ethical duties of the profession. References to the Hippocratic Oath are often heard. Many modern problems, from assisted suicide to accessible health care, raise questions about the traditional ethics of medicine and the medical (...) profession. However, few know what the traditional ethics are and how they came into being. This book provides a brief tour of the complex story of medical ethics evolved over centuries in both Western and Eastern culture. It sets this story in the social and cultural contexts in which the work of healing was practiced and suggests that, behind the many different perceptions about the ethical duties of physicians, certain themes appear constantly, and may be relevant to modern debates. The book begins with the Hippocratic medicine of ancient Greece, moves through the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Enlightenment in Europe, and the long history of Indian and Chinese medicine, ending as the problems raised modern medical science and technology challenge the settled ethics of the long tradition. (shrink)
The advent and growth of bioethics in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s precipitated an era of public moral discourse, that is, the deliberate attempt to analyze and formulate moral argument for use in public policy. The language for rational discussion of moral matters evolved from the parent disciplines of moral philosophy and theological ethics, as well as from the idioms of a secular, pluralistic world that was searching for policy answers to difficult bioethical questions. This (...) article explores the basis and content of the unique contributions of both theological and philosophical ethics to the development of public moral discourse. (shrink)
In 1991 and 1992, citizens of Washington State and California voted on whether "aid-in-dying" should be legalized. In both states, the proposition was defeated. In this article, the author, who participated in the Washington State campaign, imagines what might have happened in the fictitious State of Redwood, had such a proposal passed. Keywords: active euthanasia, aid-in-dying, assisted suicide CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
The theology of John Calvin has deeply affected the American mentality through two streams of thought, Puritanism and Jansenism. These traditions formulate moral problems in terms of absolute, clear principles and avoid casuistic analysis of moral problems. This approach is designated American moralism. This article suggests that the bioethics movement in the United States was stimulated by the moralistic mentality but that the work of the bioethics has departed from this viewpoint. Keywords: bioethics, Calvinism, casuistry, Jansenism, moralism, moral principle, Puritanism (...) CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This essay focuses on how casuistry can become a useful technique of practical reasoning for the clinical ethicist or ethics consultant. Casuistry is defined, its relationship to rhetorical reasoning and its interpretation of cases, by employing three terms that, while they are not employed by the classical rhetoricians and casuists, conform, in a general way, to the features of their work. Those terms are (1) morphology, (2) taxonomy, (3) kinetics. The morphology of a case reveals the invariant structure of the (...) particular case whatever its contingent features, and also the invariant forms of argument relevant to any case of the same sort: these invariant features can be called topics. Taxonomy situates the instant case in a series of similar cases, allowing the similarities and differences between an instant case and a paradigm case to dictate the moral judgment about the instant case. This judgment is based, not merely on application of an ethical theory or principle, but upon the way in which circumstances and maxims appear in the morphology of the case itself and in comparison with other cases. Kinetics is an understanding of the way in which one case imparts a kind of moral movement to other cases, that is, different and sometimes unprecedented circumstances may move certain marginal or exceptional cases to the level of paradigm cases. In conclusion, casuistry is the exercise of prudential or practical reasoning in recognition of the relationship between maxims, circumstances and topics, as well as the relationship of paradigms to analogous cases. (shrink)
For the last century, moral philosophy has stressed theory for the analysis of moral argument and concepts. In the last decade, interest in the ethical issues of health care has stimulated attention to cases and particular instances. This has revealed the gap between ethical theory and practice. This article reviews the history and method of casuistry which for many centuries provided an approach to practical ethics. Its strengths and weaknesses are noted and its potential for contemporary use explored.