In recent years, virtue theories have enjoyed a renaissance of interest among general and medical ethicists. This book offers a virtue-based ethic for medicine, the health professions, and health care. Beginning with a historical account of the concept of virtue, the authors construct a theory of the place of the virtues in medical practice. Their theory is grounded in the nature and ends of medicine as a special kind of human activity. The concepts of virtue, the virtues, and the virtuous (...) physician are examined along with the place of the virtues of trust, compassion, prudence, justice, courage, temperance, and effacement of self-interest in medicine. The authors discuss the relationship between and among principles, rules, virtues, and the philosophy of medicine. They also address the difference virtue-based ethics makes in confronting such practical problems as care of the poor, research with human subjects, and the conduct of the healing relationship. This book woith the author's previous volumes, A Philosophical Basis of Medical Practice and For the Patient's Good, are part of their continuing project of developing a coherent moral philosophy of medicine. (shrink)
In this companion volume to their 1981 work, A Philosophical Basis of Medical Practice, Pellegrino and Thomasma examine the principle of beneficence and its role in the practice of medicine. Their analysis, which is grounded in a thorough-going philosophy of medicine, addresses a wide array of practical and ethical concerns that are a part of health care decision-making today. Among these issues are the withdrawing and withholding of nutrition and hydration, competency assessment, the requirements for valid surrogate decision-making, quality-of-life determinations, (...) the allocation of scarce health care resources, medical gatekeeping, and for-profit medicine. The authors argue for the restoration of beneficence to its place as the fundamental principle of medical ethics. They maintain that to be guided by beneficence a physician must perform a right and good healing action which is consonant with the individual patient 's values. In order to act in the patient 's best interests, or the patient 's good, the physician and patient must discern what that good is. This knowledge is gained only through a process of dialogue between patient and/or family and physician which respects and honors the patient 's autonomous self-understanding and choice in the matter of treatment options. This emphasis on a dialogical discernment of the patient 's good rejects the assumption long held in medicine that what is considered to be the medical good is necessarily the good for this patient. In viewing autonomy as a necessary condition of beneficence, the authors move beyond a trend in the medical ethics literature which identifies beneficence with paternalism. In their analysis of beneficence, the authors reject the current emphasis on rights- and duty-based ethical systems in favor of a virtue-based theory which is grounded in the physician- patient relationship. This book's provocative contributions to medical ethics will be of great interest not only to physicians and other health professionals, but also to ethicists, students, patients, families, and all others concerned with the relationship of professional to patient and patient to professional in health care today. (shrink)
The moral authority for professional ethics in medicine customarily rests in some source external to medicine, i.e., a pre-existing philosophical system of ethics or some form of social construction, like consensus or dialogue. Rather, internal morality is grounded in the phenomena of medicine, i.e., in the nature of the clinical encounter between physician and patient. From this, a philosophy of medicine is derived which gives moral force to the duties, virtues and obligations of physicians qua physicians. Similarly, an ethic specific (...) to the other healing professions, law, teaching or ministry, can be derived from the specific ends to telos of each of these professions, which like medicine, are focused on a special type of human relationship. (shrink)
At the center of medical morality is the healing relationship. It is defined by three phenomena: the fact of illness, the act of profession, and the act of medicine. The first puts the patient in a vulnerable and dependent position; it results in an unequal relationship. The second implies a promise to help. The third involves those actions that will lead to a medically competent healing decision. But it must also be good for the patient in the fullest possible sense. (...) The physician cannot fully heal without giving the patient an understanding of alternatives such that he or she can freely arriveâtogether with the physicianâat a decision in keeping with his or her personal morality and values. In today's pluralistic society, universal agreement on moral issues between physicians and patients is no longer possible. Nevertheless, a reconstruction of professional ethics based on a new appreciation of what makes for a true healing relationship between patient and physician is both possible and necessary. (shrink)
At the center of medical morality is the healing relationship. It is defined by three phenomena: the fact of illness, the act of profession, and the act of medicine. The first puts the patient in a vulnerable and dependent position; it results in an unequal relationship. The second implies a promise to help. The third involves those actions that will lead to a medically competent healing decision. But it must also be good for the patient in the fullest possible sense. (...) The physician cannot fully heal without giving the patient an understanding of alternatives such that he or she can freely arrive—together with the physician—at a decision in keeping with his or her personal morality and values. In today's pluralistic society, universal agreement on moral issues between physicians and patients is no longer possible. Nevertheless, a reconstruction of professional ethics based on a new appreciation of what makes for a true healing relationship between patient and physician is both possible and necessary. * Originally published in The Journal of Medical Humanities, 8, Spring/summer 1987. Reprinted with permission from Springer Science and Business Media. (shrink)
A decade ago, we reviewed the field of clinical ethics; assessed its progress in research, education, and ethics committees and consultation; and made predictions about the future of the field. In this article, we revisit clinical ethics to examine our earlier observations, highlight key developments, and discuss remaining challenges for clinical ethics, including the need to develop a global perspective on clinical ethics problems.
Commodification of health care is a central tenet of managed care as it functions in the United States. As a result, price, cost, quality, availability, and distribution of health care are increasingly left to the workings of the competitive marketplace. This essay examines the conceptual, ethical, and practical implications of commodification, particularly as it affects the healing relationship between health professionals and their patients. It concludes that health care is not a commodity, that treating it as such is deleterious to (...) the ethics of patient care, and that health is a human good that a good society has an obligation to protect from the market ethos. (shrink)
What the philosophy of medicine is -- Philosophy of medicine: should it be teleologically or socially construed? -- The internal morality of clinical medicine: a paradigm for the ethics of the helping and healing professions -- Humanistic basis of professional ethics -- The commodification of medical and health care: the moral consequences of a paradigm shift from a professional to a market ethic -- Medicine today: its identity, its role, and the role of physicians -- From medical ethics to a (...) moral philosophy of the professions -- Moral choice, the good of the patient, and the patient's good -- The four principles and the doctor-patient relationship: the need for a better linkage -- Patient and physician autonomy: conflicting rights and obligations in the physician-patient relationship -- Character, virtue, and self-interest in the ethics of the professions -- Toward a virtue-based normative ethics for the health professions -- The physician's conscience, conscience clauses, and religious belief: a Catholic perspective -- The most humane of the sciences, the most scientific of the humanities -- The humanities in medical education: entering the post-evangelical era -- Agape and ethics: some reflections on medical morals from a catholic christian perspective -- Bioethics at century's turn: can normative ethics be retrieved? -- Hippocratic tradition -- Toward an expanded medical ethics: the Hippocratic ethic revisited -- Medical ethics: entering the post-Hippocratic era. (shrink)
The article offers an approach to inquiry about, the foundation of medical ethics by addressing three areas of conceptual presupposition basic to medical ethical theory. First, medical ethics must presuppose a view about the nature of medicine. it is argued that the view required by a cogent medical morality entails that medicine be seen both as a healing relationship and as a practical art. Three ways in which medicine inherently involves values and valuation are presented as important, i.e., in being (...) aimed at the good of health, in being a cognitive art evaluating towards that good, and as a manifestation of a virtuous disposition concerning that good. Finally, a value ontology drawn from these considerations is seen as necessarily underlying medical ethics. A set of three such basic values are promoted as crucial: the value of health; the value of the individual patient; and the value of altruism that mediates the class of potential patients. (shrink)
Moral absolutes have little or no moral standing in our morally diverse modern society. Moral relativism is far more palatable for most ethicists and to the public at large. Yet, when pressed, every moral relativist will finally admit that there are some things which ought never be done. It is the rarest of moral relativists that will take rape, murder, theft, child sacrifice as morally neutral choices. In general ethics, the list of those things that must never be done will (...) vary from person to person. In clinical ethics, however, the nature of the physician–patient relationship is such that certain moral absolutes are essential to the attainment of the good of the patient – the end of the relationship itself. These are all derivatives of the first moral absolute of all morality: Do good and avoid evil. In the clinical encounter, this absolute entails several subsidiary absolutes – act for the good of the patient, do not kill, keep promises, protect the dignity of the patient, do not lie, avoid complicity with evil. Each absolute is intrinsic to the healing and helping ends of the clinical encounter. (shrink)
This collection of essays, commissioned by the President’s Council on Bioethics, explores a fundamental concept crucial to today’s discourse in law and ethics in general and in bioethics in particular. Since its formation in 2001, the council has frequently used the term “human dignity” in its discussions and reports. In this volume scholars from the fields of philosophy, medicine and medical ethics, law, political science, and public policy address the issue of what the concept of “human dignity” entails and its (...) proper role in bioethical controversies. __Human Dignity and Bioethics_ _is an attempt to clarify a controversial concept, one that is a critical component in the decisions of policymakers. (shrink)
What it means to be a medical professional has been defined by medical ethicists throughout history and remains a contemporary concern addressed by this paper. A medical professional is generally considered to be one who makes a public promise to fulfill the ethical obligations expressed in the Hippocratic Code. This presentation summarizes the history of medical professionalism and refocuses attention on the interpersonal relationship of doctor and patient. This keynote address was delivered at the Founders of Bioethics International Congress (June, (...) 2010). (shrink)
“Hence it is necessary for a Prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong and to make use of it according to necessity.”—Machiavelli“Every state is a community of some kind and every community is established with a view to some good…”—Aristotle.
SummaryThe congruence between medicine and philosophy which we find in the Protagoras and the Treatise on Ancient Medicine as well as the tensions symbolized in the dialectic between Eryximachus and Diotima will always be with us. The congruence and the divergence of these ancient disciplines are both important to human well-being. By opposing one another, medicine and philosophy can each balance the other's pretension to universality. By converging, they illumine some of the most important questions of human existence. This essay (...) has examined ways in which medicine and philosophy can converge in our times as philosophy and medicine, philosophy in medicine, and philosophy of medicine. The present moment in our intellectual history is particularly propitious for the nurture of the engagement of medicine and philosophy. The most fruitful form of that interaction may be in the philosophy of medicine, which is a definable discipline with a set of issues specific to it. If the obvious intellectual dangers can be avoided, those who practice medicine, those who think about it, and those who are served by it can gain deeper insight into the nature and the purpose of medicine as well as the nature of the profession and of man himself. Perhaps—positioned as it is, at the intersection of the sciences, the humanities, and technology—medicine can become “… a medium and the focus in which the problems of wisdom and science meet” (Buchanan 1938, p. 194). (shrink)
Mehlman and Massey examine possible legal responses to the issues that confront physicians faced with treating patients who have insufficient financial resources. This commentary explores the same issues from the perspective of ethics, including a comparison of the way law and ethics interpret the physician-patient relationship, the ethical obligations of physicians that are inherent in that relationship, and the propriety of Mehlman and Massey's legal and ethical proposals to ameliorate physicians' conflicting obligations in providing or withholding care on grounds of (...) conservation of society's resources. (shrink)
The ethics of clinical research may be viewed from three different perspectives: the process of acquiring new knowledge, the moral use of the knowledge acquired, and the ethics of the investigator seeking this knowledge.
: Managed care per se is a morally neutral concept; however, as practiced today, it raises serious ethical issues at the clinical, managerial, and social levels. This essay focuses on the ethical issues that arise at the bedside, looking first at the ethical conflicts faced by the physician who is charged with responsibility for care of the patient and then turning to the way in which managed care exacts costs that are measured not in dollars but in compromises in the (...) caring dimensions of the patient-physician relationship. (shrink)
For ten years, 1971–1981, the Institute onHuman Values in Medicine (IHVM) played a keyrole in the development of Bioethics as afield. We have written this history andanalysis to bring to new generations ofBioethicists information about the developmentof their field within both the humanitiesdisciplines and the health professions. Thepioneers in medical humanities and ethics cametogether with medical professionals in thedecade of the 1960s. By the 1980s Bioethics wasa fully recognized discipline. We show the rolethat IHVM programs played in defining thefield, training (...) faculty and helping schools todevelop programs. We review the beginnings ofthe IHVM in the crucible of social andtechnological change that led to theestablishment of the IHVM's parentorganization, the Society for Health and HumanValues. We then turn to the IHVM programsthrough which Faculty members receivedfellowships to explore new crossovers betweenthe humanities and the health professions. Wehave not only described the Fellows Program asit existed in 1973–1980, but have completed asurvey of the fellows a quarter of a centuryafter they held their fellowships. We describeother IHVM programs designed to facilitate theinitiation and development of new humanitiesprograms, to explore conceptual issues betweenmedicine and five humanities fields, to conductissue driven or educational method conferencesand to advance humanities programs intograduate education through the Directors ofMedical Education. (shrink)