A number of recent publications by the philosopher David Seedhouse are discussed. Although medicine is an eminently ethical enterprise, the technical and ethical aspects of health care practices can be distinguished, therefore justifying the existence of medical ethics and its teaching as a specific part of every medical curriculum. The goal of teaching medical ethics is to make health care practitioners aware of the essential ethical aspects of their work. Furthermore, the contention that rational bioethics is a fruitless enterprise because it analyses non-rational social events seems neither theoretically tenable nor to be borne out by actual practice. Medical ethics in particular and bioethics in general, constitute a field of expertise that must make itself understandable and convincing to relevant audiences in health care. (+info)
Camouflage is no defence--a response to Kottow.
The author responds to Professor Kottow's criticisms, explaining numerous errors and misconceptions. (+info)
Arguments for zero tolerance of sexual contact between doctors and patients.
Some doctors do enter into sexual relationships with patients. These relationships can be damaging to the patient involved. One response available to both individual doctors and to disciplinary bodies is to prohibit sexual contact between doctors and patients ("zero tolerance"). This paper considers five ways of arguing for a zero tolerance policy. The first rests on an empirical claim that such contact is almost always harmful to the patient involved. The second is based on a "principles" approach while the third originates in "virtues" ethics. The fourth argues that zero tolerance is an "a priori" truth. These four attempt to establish that the behaviour is always wrong and ought, therefore, to be prohibited. The fifth argument is counterfactual. It claims a policy that allowed sexual contact would have unacceptable consequences. Given the responsibility of regulatory bodies to protect the public, zero tolerance is a natural policy to develop. (+info)
Power and the teaching of medical ethics.
This paper argues that ethics education needs to become more reflective about its social and political ethic as it participates in the construction and transmission of medical ethics. It argues for a critical approach to medical ethics and explores the political context in medical schools and some of the peculiar problems in medical ethics education. (+info)
Talking about cases in bioethics: the effect of an intensive course on health care professionals.
Educational efforts in bioethics are prevalent, but little is known about their efficacy. Although previous work indicates that courses in bioethics have a demonstrable effect on medical students, it has not examined their effect on health care professionals. In this report, we describe a study designed to investigate the effect of bioethics education on health care professionals. At the Intensive Bioethics Course, a six-day course held annually at Georgetown University, we administered a questionnaire requiring open-ended responses to vignettes both before and after the course. Following the course, respondents defended their responses more carefully and articulated their thoughts more clearly. In addition, after the course respondents seemed to have a more subtle understanding of the relevant issues in the cases and applied theory to these cases more frequently. These findings help to formulate an understanding of the effect of bioethics education on health care professionals. (+info)
Can unequal be more fair? A response to Andrew Avins.
In this paper, we respond to Andrew Avins's recent review of methods whose use he advocates in clinical trials, to make them more ethical. He recommends in particular, "unbalanced randomisation". However, we argue that, before such a recommendation can be made, it is important to establish why unequal randomisation might offer ethical advantages over equal randomisation, other things being equal. It is important to make a pragmatic distinction between trials of treatments that are already routinely available and trials of restricted treatments. We conclude that unequal randomisation could, indeed, be an ethical compromise between protecting the interests of participants and those of society. (+info)
Unconscious violinists and the use of analogies in moral argument.
Analogies are the stuff out of which normative moral philosophy is made. Certainly one of the most famous analogies constructed by a philosopher in order to argue for a specific controversial moral conclusion is the one involving Judith Thomson's unconscious violinist. Reflection upon this analogy is meant to show us that abortion is generally not immoral even if the prenatal have the same moral status as the postnatal. This was and still is a controversial conclusion, and yet the analogy does seem to reveal in a very vivid way what makes abortion a reasonable response to a terrible situation. But Thomson's example has frequently been attacked on all sides for not being truly analogous to abortion. Here I develop a brand new analogy that sheds light on the issue with which Thomson was concerned, while at the same time avoiding most of the more serious objections made to her analogy. (+info)
Why the fair innings argument is not persuasive.
The fair innings argument (FIA) is frequently put forward as a justification for denying elderly patients treatment when they are in competition with younger patients and resources are scarce. In this paper I will examine some arguments that are used to support the FIA. My conclusion will be that they do not stand up to scrutiny and therefore, the FIA should not be used to justify the denial of treatment to elderly patients, or to support rationing of health care by age. There are six issues arising out of the FIA which are to be addressed. First, the implication that there is such a thing as a fair share of life. Second, whether it makes sense to talk of a fair share of resources in the context of health care and the FIA. Third, that 'fairness' is usually only mentioned with regard to the length of a person's life, and not to any other aspect of it. Fourth, if it is sensible to discuss the merits of the FIA without taking account of the 'all other things being equal' argument. Fifth, the difference between what is unfair and what is unfortunate. Finally, that it is tragic if a young person dies, but only unfortunate if an elderly person does. (+info)