Critical Care: Why There Is No Global Bioethics
Engelhardt, H. Tristram
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 1998 Dec; 23(6): 643-651.
The high technology and the costs involved in critical care disclose the implausibility of applying the American standard version of bioethics in the developing world. The American standard version of bioethics was framed during the rapid secularization of the American culture, the emergence of a new image for the medical profession, the development of high technology medicine, an ever greater demand in resources, and a shift of focus from families and communities to individuals. This all brought with it a particular ideology of health care which promised Americans (1) the best of care, (2) equal care, and (3) physician/patient choice, without (4) runaway costs. This essay argues that this moral project is impossible in practice. This impossibility is especially salient in developing countries. In addition to the fact that it is financially impossible to provide all in the developing world with the standard of care accepted by law, policy, and convention in developed countries, different moral perspectives with different orderings of values will seem more or less plausible in different cultures. Indeed, such an approach would be harmful. A concrete bioethics applicable across the world does not appear possible.
Autonomy; Bioethics; Critically Ill; Cultural Pluralism; Culture; Consent; Developed Countries; Developing Countries; Economics; Ethical Relativism; Health; Health Care; Informed Consent; International Aspects; Justice; Law; Medicine; Morality; Non-Western World; Public Policy; Quality of Health Care; Resource Allocation; Secularism; Standards; Technology; Third Party Consent; Values; Western World;