Health Care Analysis. 1994 Nov; 2(4): 306-309.
Stephen Toulmin's paper, How Medicine Saved the Life of Ethics, heralded what he took to be a new beginning for ethics. Toulmin thought that the vital social involvement of medicine, and the urgency of its moral problems, provided ethics with an application that promised benefits for both parties. However, it is time to review this assumption, and in particular to assess the putative benefits that ethics was to confer on teaching within medicine. My conclusion is simple: in giving succour to ethics medicine is harbouring a slow virus that could have crippling effects both on ethical practice in medicine, and on the way that this is taught to medical students.