Nuancing the healer's art — the epistemology of patient competence

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2 (1):27-30 (1981)
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The programmatic thrust of Thomasma and Pellegrino [5] is clarified and underscored and is interpreted as an attempt to introduce a fixed point into the ethical dimension of medicine by specifying some regulative principles for the medical profession. Two important features of this type of enterprise are noted: on the one hand, it may lead the profession to distinguish between technically identical actions on the basis of the normative principles it produces, thus excluding some morally permissible actions as duties constitutive of the art. It is argued that the formulation of the grounds for this ethic given by Thomasma and Pellegrino is insufficient. In order to speak to the clinical situation, medical ethics must not be based on merely the living human body alone, but on the patientqua person.



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