Phronesis as an ideal in professional medical ethics: some preliminary positionings and problematics

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 36 (5):299-320 (2015)

Abstract
Phronesis has become a buzzword in contemporary medical ethics. Yet, the use of this single term conceals a number of significant conceptual controversies based on divergent philosophical assumptions. This paper explores three of them: on phronesis as universalist or relativist, generalist or particularist, and natural/painless or painful/ambivalent. It also reveals tensions between Alasdair MacIntyre’s take on phronesis, typically drawn upon in professional ethics discourses, and Aristotle’s original concept. The paper offers these four binaries as a possible analytical framework for classifying and evaluating accounts of phronesis in the medical ethics literature. It argues that to make sense of phronesis as a putative ideal in professional medical ethics—for example, with the further aim of crafting interventions to cultivate phronesis in medical ethics education—the preliminary question of which conception of phronesis is most serviceable for the aim in question needs to be answered. The paper identifies considerable lack of clarity in the current discursive field on phronesis and suggests how that shortcoming can be ameliorated
Keywords Phronesis  Medical ethics  Aristotle  MacIntyre  Medical ethics education
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DOI 10.1007/s11017-015-9338-4
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References found in this work BETA

After Virtue.A. MacIntyre - 1981 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 46 (1):169-171.
Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
Alasdair Macintyre on Education: In Dialogue with Joseph Dunne.Alasdair Macintyre & Joseph Dunne - 2002 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 36 (1):1–19.

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Citations of this work BETA

Thoughts on Phronesis.Nicholas C. Burbules - 2019 - Ethics and Education 14 (2):126-137.

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