A study of the foundations of ethical decision making of clinical medical ethicists

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 12 (2) (1991)
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A study of clinical medical ethicists was conducted to determine the various philosophical positions they hold with respect to ethical decision making in medicine and their various positions' relationship to the subjective-objective controversy in value theory. The study consisted of analyzing and interpreting data gathered from questionnaires from 52 clinical medical ethicists at 28 major health care centers in the United States. The study revealed that most clinical medical ethicists tend to be objectivists in value theory, i.e., believe that value judgments are knowledge claims capable of being true or false and therefore expressions of moral requirements and normative imperatives emanating from an external value structure or moral order in the world. In addition, the study revealed that most clinical medical ethicists are consistent in the philosophical foundations of their ethical decision making, i.e., in decision making regarding values they tend not to hold beliefs which are incompatible with other beliefs they hold about values.



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