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  1. William E. Stempsey (2012). Bioethics Needs Religion. American Journal of Bioethics 12 (12):17-18.
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  2. William E. Stempsey (2010). The Role of Religion in the Debate About Physician-Assisted Dying. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 13 (4):383-387.
    This paper explores the role of religious belief in public debate about physician-assisted dying and argues that the role is essential because any discussion about the way we die raises the deepest questions about the meaning of human life and death. For religious people, such questions are essentially religious ones, even when the religious elements are framed in secular political or philosophical language. The paper begins by reviewing some of the empirical data about religious belief and practice in the United (...)
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  3. William E. Stempsey (2009). Clinical Reasoning: New Challenges. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 30 (3):173-179.
    This article is an introduction to a special issue of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics on clinical reasoning. Clinical reasoning encompasses the gamut of thinking about clinical medical practice—the evaluation and management of patients’ medical problems. Theories of clinical reasoning may be normative or descriptive; that is, they may offer recommendations on how clinicians ought to think or they may simply attempt to describe how clinicians actually do think. This article briefly surveys these approaches in order to show the complexity of (...)
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  4. William E. Stempsey (2008). Lisa A. Eckenwiler and Felicia G. Cohn (Eds.): The Ethics of Bioethics: Mapping the Moral Landscape. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 29 (2):121-124.
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  5. William E. Stempsey (2008). Philosophy of Medicine is What Philosophers of Medicine Do. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 51 (3):379-391.
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  6. William E. Stempsey (2007). Medical Humanities and Philosophy: Is the Universe Expanding or Contracting? [REVIEW] Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 10 (4):373-383.
    The question of whether the universe is expanding or contracting serves as a model for current questions facing the medical humanities. The medical humanities might aptly be described as a metamedical multiverse encompassing many separate universes of discourse, the most prominent of which is probably bioethics. Bioethics, however, is increasingly developing into a new interdisciplinary discipline, and threatens to engulf the other medical humanities, robbing them of their own distinctive contributions to metamedicine. The philosophy of medicine considered as a distinct (...)
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  7. William E. Stempsey (2007). Medical Humanities: Introduction to the Theme. [REVIEW] Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 10 (4):359-361.
    The Twentieth European Conference on Philosophy of Medicine and Health Care was held in Helsinki, Finland, in August 2006 and highlighted the theme “Medicine, Philosophy and the Humanities.” The four papers in this thematic section are developed from presentations made at that conference.They are the work of physicians and philosophers and present fundamentally philosophical reflections on the medical humanities. The authors show that philosophy offers both a substantial way of humanizing the theory and practice of medicine and a way to (...)
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  8. William E. Stempsey (2006). Emerging Medical Technologies and Emerging Conceptions of Health. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 27 (3):227-243.
    Using ideas gleaned from the philosophy of technology of Martin Heidegger and Hans Jonas and the philosophy of health of Georges Canguilhem, I argue that one of the characteristics of emerging medical technologies is that these technologies lead to new conceptions of health. When technologies enable the body to respond to more and more challenges of disease, we thus establish new norms of health. Given the continued development of successful technologies, we come to expect more and more that our bodies (...)
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  9. William E. Stempsey (2006). The Geneticization of Diagnostics. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 9 (2):193-200.
    “Geneticization” is a term used to describe the ways in which the science of genetics is influencing society at large and medicine in particular; it has important implications for the process of diagnostics. Because genetic diagnostics produces knowledge about genetic disease and predisposition to disease, it is essentially influenced by these innovations in the disease concept. In this paper, I argue that genetic diagnostics presents new ethical challenges not because the diagnostic process or method in genetic diagnostics is ethically different (...)
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  10. William E. Stempsey (2005). The Philosophy of Medicine: Development of a Discipline. [REVIEW] Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 7 (3):243-251.
    This paper is a criticalexamination of the development of thephilosophy of medicine as a discipline. Ithighlights two major themes in the contemporarydebate about the philosophy of medicine: thescope of the discipline and the relation of thediscipline to its cognate disciplines. A broadview of the philosophy of medicine is defendedand the philosophy of medicine is seen as aphilosophical sub-discipline. These viewsdepend in important ways on three factors: ageneral metaphysical world view, particularunderstandings of the cognate disciplines, andthe perspective from which one asks (...)
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  11. William E. Stempsey (2004). A New Stoic: The Wise Patient. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (4):451 – 472.
    It is common to talk of wise physicians, but not so common to talk of wise patients. "Patient" is a word derived from the Latin patior - "to suffer," but also "to let be." Suffering has been the universal lot of humanity, and medicine rightly tries to relieve suffering. Medical progress, like all technological progress, leads us more and more to hope that we can control our fate. However, we do well to ask whether our attempts to control our fate (...)
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  12. William E. Stempsey (2002). Miracles and the Limits of Medical Knowledge. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 5 (1):1 - 9.
    In considering whether medical miracles occur, the limits of epistemology bring us to confront our metaphysical worldview of medicine and nature in general. This raises epistemological questions of a higher order. David Hume’s understanding of miracles as violations of the laws of nature assumes that nature is completely regular, whereas doctrines such as C. S. Peirce’s "tychism" hold that there is an element of absolute chance in the workings of the universe. Process philosophy gives yet another view of the working (...)
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  13. William E. Stempsey (2001). Plato and Holistic Medicine. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 4 (2):201-209.
    Popular visions of holistic health and holistic medicine are not so much reactions to perceived excesses of technological medicine as they are visions of the good life itself and how to attain it. This paper attempts to clarify some of the concepts associated with holistic health and medicine. The particular vision of holistic health presented here is well exemplified in the writings of Plato. First, I examine the scientific concept of holism and argue that, while medicine is inadequately characterized by (...)
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  14. William E. Stempsey (2000). A Pathological View of Disease. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 21 (4):321-330.
    This paper is a response to Christopher Boorse's recent defense of hisBiostatistical Theory (BST) of health and disease. Boorse maintains that hisconcept of theoretical health and disease reflects the ``consideredusage of pathologists.'' I argue that pathologists do not use ``disease'' inthe purely theoretical way that is required by the BST. Pathology does notdraw a sharp distinction between theoretical and practical aspects ofmedicine. Pathology does not even need a theoretical concept of disease. Itsfocus is not theoretical, but practical; pathology's goal is (...)
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  15. William E. Stempsey (1999). The Quarantine of Philosophy in Medical Education: Why Teaching the Humanities May Not Produce Humane Physicians. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2 (1):3-9.
    Patients increasingly see physicians not as humane caregivers but as unfeeling technicians. The study of philosophy in medical school has been proposed to foster critical thinking about one's assumptions, perspectives and biases, encourage greater tolerance toward the ideas of others, and cultivate empathy. I suggest that the study of ethics and philosophy by medical students has failed to produce the humane physicians we seek because of the way the subject matter is quarantined in American medical education. First, the liberal arts (...)
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  16. William E. Stempsey (1995). Incommensurability: Its Implications for the Patient/Physician Relation. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 20 (3):253-269.
    Scientific authority and physician authority are both challenged by Thomas Kuhn's concept of incommensurability. If competing "paradigms" or "world views" cannot rationally be compared, we have no means to judge the truth of any particular view. However, the notion of local or partial incommensurability might provide a framework for understanding the implications of contemporary philosophy of science for medicine. We distinguish four steps in the process of translating medical science into clinical decisions: the doing of the science, the appropriation of (...)
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