Knowledge of the ethical and legal basis of medicine is as essential to clinical practice as an understanding of basic medical sciences. In the UK, the General Medical Council requires that medical graduates behave according to ethical and legal principles and must know about and comply with the GMC’s ethical guidance and standards. We suggest that these standards can only be achieved when the teaching and learning of medical ethics, law and professionalism are fundamental to, and thoroughly integrated both vertically (...) and horizontally throughout, the curricula of all medical schools as a shared obligation of all teachers. The GMC also requires that each medical school provides adequate teaching time and resources to achieve the above. We reiterate that the adequate provision and coordination of teaching and learning of ethics and law requires at least one full-time senior academic in ethics and law with relevant professional and academic expertise. In this paper we set out an updated indicative core content of learning for medical ethics and law in UK medical schools and describe its origins and the consultative process by which it was achieved. (shrink)
When Wittgenstein moved from Manchester to Cambridge he was following a path from the study of the natural sciences to the study of philosophy which was then not unusual, and has since become increasingly common. Russell had preceded him in that intellectual emigration and many more were to follow. Of the three philosophy departments I have been in, two were headed by natural scientists. Both my research supervisors in philosophy were natural scientists. Less surprising, but still significant, a considerable proportion (...) of Presidents of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science were originally trained as natural scientists. Yet it is a subject still unrecognized by the Royal Society. The editors of both the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science and the journal Analysis were both originally natural scientists. Eminent scientists seem to feel impelled to discuss there own subjects in a wider context of philosophy. Bohr, Schrodinger, Kilmister, Hoyle, Hawking and Penrose, are but a few from a long list. (shrink)
Traditionally clinicians have determined their patients' resuscitation status without consultation. This has been condemned as morally indefensible in cases where not for resuscitation (NFR) orders are based on quality of life considerations and when the patient's true wishes are not known. Such instances would encompass most resuscitation decisions in elderly patients. Having previously involved patients in CPR decision-making, we chose formally to explore the reasons behind the choices made. Although the patients were not upset, and readily decided at the time (...) of initial consultation, on later analysing the decision-making we found poor understanding of the procedure, poor recall of information given and in some cases evidence of harm. This may be attributed to impaired decision-making capacity of elderly hospitalised patients as previously shown, or to the discomfort precipitated by having to contemplate the apparent immediacy of cardiac arrest by these patients. We propose that subscribing to autonomy as a general principle needs to be balanced against particular cases where distress may be caused by, or result in, diminished competence and limited autonomy. (shrink)
Next SectionFollowing the influential Gifford and Reith lectures by Onora O’Neill, this paper explores further the paradigm of individual autonomy which has been so dominant in bioethics until recently and concurs that it is an aberrant application and that conceptions of individual autonomy cannot provide a sufficient and convincing starting point for ethics within medical practice. We suggest that revision of the operational definition of patient autonomy is required for the twenty first century. We follow O’Neill in recommending a principled (...) version of patient autonomy, which for us involves the provision of sufficient and understandable information and space for patients, who have the capacity to make a settled choice about medical interventions on themselves, to do so responsibly in a manner considerate to others. We test it against the patient–doctor relationship in which each fully respects the autonomy of the other based on an unspoken covenant and bilateral trust between the doctor and patient. Indeed we consider that the dominance of the individual autonomy paradigm harmed that relationship. Although it seems to eliminate any residue of medical paternalism we suggest that it has tended to replace it with an equally (or possibly even more) unacceptable bioethical paternalism. In addition it may, for example, lead some doctors to consider mistakenly that unthinking acquiescence to a requested intervention against their clinical judgement is honouring “patient autonomy” when it is, in fact, abrogation of their duty as doctors. (shrink)
Listening to someone from some distance in a crowded room you may experience the following phenomenon: when looking at them speak, you may both hear and see where the source of the sounds is; but when your eyes are turned elsewhere, you may no longer be able to detect exactly where the voice must be coming from. With your eyes again fixed on the speaker, and the movement of her lips a clear sense of the source of the sound will (...) return. This ‘ventriloquist’ effect reflects the ways in which visual cognition can dominate auditory perception. And this phenomenological observation is one what you can verify or disconfirm in your own case just by the slightest reflection on what it is like for you to listen to someone with or without visual contact with them. (shrink)
In this paper we consider an intuitionistic variant of the modal logic S4 (which we call IS4). The novelty of this paper is that we place particular importance on the natural deduction formulation of IS4— our formulation has several important metatheoretic properties. In addition, we study models of IS4— not in the framework of Kirpke semantics, but in the more general framework of category theory. This allows not only a more abstract definition of a whole class of models but also (...) a means of modelling proofs as well as provability. (shrink)
Contemporary Western societies are obsessed with the “obesity epidemic,” dieting, and fitness. Fat people violate the Western conscience by violating a thinness norm. In virtue of violating the thinness norm, fat people suffer many varied consequences. Is their suffering morally permissible, or even obligatory? In this paper, I argue that the answer is no. I examine contemporary philosophical accounts of oppression and draw largely on the work of Sally Haslanger to generate a set of conditions sufficient for some phenomena to (...) count as oppression, and I illustrate the account’s value using the example of gender oppression. I then apply the account to fat people, examine empirical evidence, and argue that the suffering of fat people counts as oppression. (shrink)
This article shows that the various regimes of “real socialism” uniformly failed to transcend the horizon of capitalism. They have remained class societies based on wage labour, commodity production, a money economy and welfare systems fed by redistribution. At the same time, they present peculiar features that are different from other versions of “state capitalism.” Traditional elites were annihilated, private property of capital in the hands of individuals or autonomous groups was prohibited, and the advantages accruing to leading positions were (...) not inherited, although equality in income was very modest. The main political invention of “real socialism” was the Party, a unique institution unlike any other, grounded in theory, but an institution of the state, over the executive, which had unprecedented powers of mobilisation and cultural influence. It had to be intellectual in character, as the system was steered through the Plan which was, in the final analysis, a text. The changes of 1989 took place partly mediated by the Party, partly against its rule. The successor regimes are conspicuously political owing to the nature of the adversary. (shrink)
Modern medicine is increasingly aware of the significance of patient autonomy in making treatment choices. This would seem to be particularly important where the therapy requested was "voluntary" as in fertility treatment or cosmetic surgery. However, the Hippocratic doctrine "Primum non nocere", seems especially relevant where the treatment sought may have a low chance of a successful outcome or even be life-threatening. Mrs A's case demonstrates the difficulty faced by the physician who wants to maximise her patient's autonomy, but "Above (...) all, do no harm". (shrink)
To speak of ‘the real subject’ or ‘the primary aim’ of a Platonic dialogue usually means to magnify one aspect of it at the expense of other aspects as important. Such is not my intention. It is quite clear, however, without prejudice to the philosophic value of any of the topics discussed, that the Protagoras is an attack upon the sophists as represented by Protagoras, the greatest of them. Hippias and Prodicus are present and some of the great man's glory (...) is reflected upon them; they are also no doubt to some extent implicated in his defeat, though they seem quite unaware of the fact. (shrink)
Research ethics committees are charged with providing an opinion on whether research proposals are ethical. These committees are overseen by a central office that acts for the Department of Health and hence the State. An advisory group has recently reported back to the Department of Health, recommending that it should deal with inconsistency in the decisions made by different RECs. This article questions the desirability and feasibility of questing for consistent ethical decisions.
This paper explores ethical issues relating to the management of patients who are terminally ill and unable to maintain their own nutrition and hydration. A policy of sedation without hydration or nutrition is used in palliative medicine under certain circumstances. The author argues that this policy is dangerous, medically, ethically and legally, and can be disturbing for relatives. The role of the family in management is discussed. This issue requires wide debate by the public and the profession.