My problem is how should we approach the concrete moral problems that arise in medicine, law, management or engineering in a pluralistic society — in what follows I shall concentrate upon medicine, but my concern is basically with the whole spectrum presented by the term “professional ethics”. My thesis is that we shall not be in a position to discuss the moral problems of professionals until we get clear about “where ethics comes from” as one concerned scholar put it1 — something that modern philosophy is generally confused about — and something that the very notion of ‘applied’ ethics confuses. My suggestion is that we have much to learn from the example of the Hastings Center , with respect to handling problems of professional ethics. My assumptions are, first, that philosophers — as Alasdair Maclntyre has long insisted — for the most part confuse the ethical issues they would illuminate by endeavoring to supply theoretical solutions to practical problems, and, second, that this confusion is rooted in an erroneous notion of how concepts function, namely, in the idea that concepts have meaning prior to their application
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DOI 10.1007/978-94-017-2454-8_15
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