The relationship between moral philosophy and medical ethics reconsidered

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 17 (3):271-276 (2007)
: Medical ethics often is treated as applied ethics, that is, the application of moral philosophy to ethical issues in medicine. In an earlier paper, we examined instances of moral philosophy's influence on medical ethics. We found the applied ethics model inadequate and sketched an alternative model. On this model, practitioners seeking to change morality "appropriate" concepts and theory fragments from moral philosophy to valorize and justify their innovations. Goldilocks-like, five commentators tasted our offerings. Some found them too cold, since they had already abandoned applied ethics; others too hot, since they still find the applied ethics model to their taste. We reply that the appropriation model offers an empirically testable account of the historical relationship between moral philosophy and medical ethics that explains why practitioners appropriate concepts and fragments from moral philosophy. In contrast, the now fashionable common morality theory neither explains moral change nor why practitioners turn to moral philosophy
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DOI 10.1353/ken.2007.0016
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