Although principles, as a framework to resolving moral dilemmas are still debated and seem to be in a philosophical quagmire, there are strong arguments that by specification one can resolve case-specific dilemmas in certain areas of bioethics. When it comes to genetic screening and testing however, the problem at the base is a moral disagreement on higher-order principlesâsuch as the status of the embryo and parental issues. No amount of specification can resolve these issues without a dose of relativism. We (...) explore a possibility of agreement on debatable areas specifically in regard to geneticsâsuch as conferring status to the embryo solely for purposes of preventing genetic selection; but it is difficult to see how this can be incorporated into law without extrapolation to other areas. We conclude therefore that the four-principles approach, albeit valuable for expounding opposing views and discussing issues, cannot either alone or by specification, help resolve issues of genetic screening and testing without agreeing on higher order principle. This does not seem to be a possibility in the near future. (shrink)
Professional autonomy, as the symbol of the traditional freedom ofdecision-making of medical professionals is criticized. This essayexamines the critique. It analyses the underlying assumption that theautonomy of health professionals is incompatible with the need fororganisation and management in order to control rising health carecosts. It is argued that the concept of professional autonomy should beredefined, not through restricting the decision-making freedom ofindividual health professionals, but through expanding the concept intothe sphere of management, so that managers will take responsibility forpatient care.
This paper explores usage of the concept ofabnormality in medical genetics and proposesdirectives for more careful usage of this concept.The conceptual difficulties are first explored, thena model is developed to assess actual usage, followedby analysis of a sample of genetic textbooks andgenetics literature. It appears that fact andvaluation are often intermingled, that referencestandards used to define 'genetic abnormalities' areoften not clear and that the concept of abnormality isoften used independent of the degree of certainty withwhich the altered genetype develops into (...) a (seriously)harmful phenotype. On the basis of these findings itis argued that more restraint and more careful use ofthe concept of genetic abnormality of medical geneticsis appropriate as well as more agreement on the use ofreference standards. (shrink)
The main object of criticism of present-day medical ethics is the standard view of the relationship between theory and practice. Medical ethics is more than the application of moral theories and principles, and health care is more than the domain of application of moral theories. Moral theories and principles are necessarily abstract, and therefore fail to take account of the sometimes idiosyncratic reality of clinical work and the actual experiences of practitioners. Suggestions to remedy the illnesses of contemporary medical ethics (...) focus on re-establishing the connection between the internal and external morality of medicine. This article discusses the question how to develop a theoretical perspective on medical ethical issues that connects philosophical reflection with the everyday realities of medical practice. Four steps in a comprehensive approach of medical ethics research are distinguished: (1) examine health care contexts in order to obtain a better understanding of the internal morality of these practices; this requires empirical research; (2) analyze and interpret the external morality governing health care practices; sociological study of prevalent values, norms, and attitudes concerning medical-ethical issues is required; (3) creation of new theoretical perspectives on health care practices; Jensen's theory of healthcare practices will be useful here; (4) develop a new conception of bioethics that illuminates and clarifies the complex interaction between the internal and external morality of health care practices. Hermeneutical ethics can be helpful for integrating the experiences disclosed in the empirical ethical studies, as well as utilizing the insights gained from describing the value-contexts of health care practices. For a critical and normative perspective, hermeneutical ethics has to examine and explain the moral experiences uncovered, in order to understand what they tell us. (shrink)
The tradition of anthropological medicine in philosophy of medicine is analyzed in relation to the earlier interest in epistemological issues in medicine around the turn of the century as well as to the current interest in medical ethics. It is argued that there is a continuity between epistemological, anthropological and ethical approaches in philosophy of medicine. Three basic ideas of anthropologically-oriented medicine are discussed: the rejection of Cartesian dualism, the notion of medicine as science of the human person, and the (...) necessity of a comprehensive understanding of disease. Next, it is discussed why the anthropological movement has been superseded by the increasing interest in medical ethics. It is concluded that the present-day moral issues cannot be interpreted and resolved without clarification of the underlying anthropological images. (shrink)
Medical ethics nowadays is dominated by a conception of ethics as the application of moral theories and principles. This conception is criticized for its depreciation of the internal morality of medical practice and its narrow view of external morality. This view reflects both a lack of interest in the empirical realities of medicine and a neglect of the socio-cultural value-contexts of medical ethical issues, including the creative development of a broader philosophical framework for a practicable medical ethics. Several alternative approaches (...) and conceptions have been proposed. The unified clinical ethics theory, developed by Graber and Thomasma, is an interesting attempt to synthesize these alternative approaches. It correctly identifies as the crucial problem the present disconnectedness of medical ethics from theoretical philosophy as well as the practice of medicine. In this paper, however, it is argued that the unitary theory should take more serious attention to the hermeneutic character of medicine as well as ethics. This implies that the unitary theory must in fact transform itself into aninterpretive clinical ethics theory. The theoretical characteristics and practical consequences of an interpretive theory of medical ethics are discussed in the present paper. (shrink)
The contemporary philosophy of medicine may be characterized as a continuous struggle with the Cartesian heritage, in order to reach a more satisfying image of man. This paper outlines the influence of Cartesian dualism on the foundations of medicine.The notion of a real distinction between the mental and physical, particularly the mechanistic conception of the human body, made possible the development of the natural sciences as well as scientific medicine, not hampered any longer by the risk of colliding with religion (...) or Church. (shrink)
This report explores the relationship between philosophy and medicine in the Netherlands. In Section 1 we outline the ups and downs of medico-philosophical research in our country: pre-war flourishing, post-war decline, and modern renaissance. In Section 2 we review recent Dutch literature in the philosophy of medicine. The topics dealt with include methodology of medical science, alternative medicine, the basic concepts of medicine, anthropological medicine, medicalization, medicine and culture, and health care ethics.