Laying Clinical Ethics Open
McCullough, Laurence B.
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 1993 Feb; 18(1): 1-8.
[T]he very strength of bioethics over the past several decades emanates from two complementary intellectual commitments. First, the humanities, philosophy especially, should end their inward turn away from the world that occurred during the middle third of our century. Instead, philosophy and the humanities should critically engage human experience, practices, and institutions. In doing so, philosophy returns to the self-understanding that has dominated the previous history of Western philosophy, American philosophy especially. Given the importance and power of medicine, the engagement of medicine by philosophy and the humanities was lent vitality and urgency. Philosophy and the humanities began to make a difference in the clinical setting. Second, medicine should beware understanding itself solely in terms of a narrow medical model of applied biology. Instead, medicine (and the other health care professions) should reflect carefully on such central matters as the nature of the professional-patient relationship, the irreducible influence of economics (once of abundance, now of scarcity) on clinical judgment, the nature and limits of the physician's power, and the fiduciary role of health care institutions. Putting these assumptions into practice has engendered a dialogue between medicine and philosophy and the other humanities that is one of signal intellectual achievements of the last third of our century -- and for the foreseeable future. To sunder medicine and philosophy -- as Siegler, Pellegrino, and Singer, on the one hand, and Wikler, on the other, would have us do -- would end prematurely and unnecessarily one of the great intellectual adventures in the histories of both medicine and philosophy. In short, the enterprise of laying medicine open to philosophy and of laying philosophy open to medicine has only just begun. Laying clinical ethics open is one of the newest and exciting frontiers of this enterprise. In this spirit, therefore the
Bioethics; Biology; Clinical Ethics; Communication; Consultation; Economics; Education; Ethicists; Ethics; Ethics Committees; Health; Health Care; Humanities; Interdisciplinary Communication; Medical Education; Medicine; Nature; Patient Care; Philosophy; Physicians; Power; Referral and Consultation; Scarcity; Technical Expertise;