The Danger of Virtue
Veatch, Robert M.
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 1988 Nov; 13(4): 445-446.
Responding to Daniel Putman's defense of the role of virtue in health care, Veatch puts forth the qualification that it is impossible to get right actions from virtues, unless the right virtue is the starting point. Among strangers sharing no common understanding of the virtuous life, virtues are only instrumentally, not intrinsically, important for producing right conduct. Principles of right action must be articulated in order to know how a physician is expected to behave, for instance, in deciding whether norms of benevolence or autonomy will guide the decision to disclose information to a patient. (KIE abstract)