On becoming non-judgmental: some difficulties for an ethics of counselling.
The growth in the availability of counselling services has been accompanied by growing concern about the conduct of counsellors, which in turn has led to the expressed need for an ethics of counselling. This paper will argue that there is an inherent tension between this need and the central tenets of one variety of counselling, client-centred counselling. The tension is identifiable on the basis of an inquiry into the nature of moral judgment which results in the recognition of the implicit value base in client-centred counselling. It is only when this value base is made explicit that any adequate ethics of counselling becomes a viable possibility. (+info)
An argument for intolerance.
"Multiculturalism", "pluralism" and "tolerance" have become buzz words in applied ethics. While serious and well thought out work is going on in these areas, a misunderstanding of the importance of tolerance, and the difficulties raised by multicultural moral conflict seems common. In this paper I argue that intolerance of some cultural traditions is morally required, and suggest that the forging of a moral mono-culture is preferable to pluralism. (+info)
A little toleration, please.
Value pluralism does not imply relativism or subjectivism about values. What it does is allow respect for an at least limited toleration of values with which one may profoundly disagree. Thus a doctor can respect the autonomy of a patient whose values he does not share. (+info)
Who is my brother's keeper?
Clinical and research practices designed by developed countries are often implemented in host nations of the Third World. In recent years, a number of papers have presented a diversity of arguments to justify these practices which include the defence of research with placebos even though best proven treatments exist; the distribution of drugs unapproved in their country of origin; withholding of existing therapy in order to observe the natural course of infection and disease; redefinition of equipoise to a more bland version, and denial of post-trial benefits to research subjects. These practices have all been prohibited in developed, sponsoring countries, even though they invariably have pockets of poverty where conditions comparable to the Third World prevail. Furthermore, the latest update of the Declaration of Helsinki clearly decries double ethical standards in research protocols. Under these circumstances, it does not seem appropriate that First World scholars should propose and defend research and clinical practices with less stringent ethical standards than those mandatory in their own countries. Recent years have witnessed frequent reports of less stringent ethical standards being applied to both clinical and research medical practices, for the most part in the field of drug trials and drug marketing, initiated by developed countries in poorer nations. Still more unsettling, a number of articles have endorsed the policy of employing ethical norms in these host countries, which would be unacceptable to both the legislations and the moral standards of the sponsor nations. Also, these reformulations often contravene the Declaration of Helsinki or one of its updates. This paper is not so much concerned with the actual practices, which have been subjected to frequent scrutiny and publicly decried when gross misconduct occurred. Rather, my concern relates to the approval and support such practices have found in the literature on bioethics from authors who might be expected to use their energy and scholarship to explore and endorse the universalisability of ethics rather than to develop ad hoc arguments that would allow exceptions and variations from accepted moral standards. To this purpose, issue will be taken with arguments in three fields: medical and pharmaceutical practices, research strategies, and local application of research results. (+info)
Between universalism and relativism: a conceptual exploration of problems in formulating and applying international biomedical ethical guidelines.
In this paper, the author attempts to explore some of the problems connected with the formulation and application of international biomedical ethical guidelines, with particular reference to Africa. Recent attempts at revising and updating some international medical ethical guidelines have been bedevilled by intractable controversies and wrangling regarding both the content and formulation. From the vantage position of relative familiarity with both African and Western contexts, and the privilege of having been involved in the revision and updating of one of the international ethical guidelines, the author reflects broadly on these issues and attempts prescribing an approach from both the theoretical and practical angles liable to mitigate, if not completely eliminate, some of the problems and difficulties. (+info)
Western medical ethics taught to junior medical students can cross cultural and linguistic boundaries.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about teaching medical ethics across cultural and linguistic boundaries. This study examined two successive cohorts of first year medical students in a six year undergraduate MBBS program. METHODS: The objective was to investigate whether Arabic speaking students studying medicine in an Arabic country would be able to correctly identify some of the principles of Western medical ethical reasoning. This cohort study was conducted on first year students in a six-year undergraduate program studying medicine in English, their second language at a medical school in the Arabian Gulf. The ethics teaching was based on the four-principle approach (autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance and justice) and delivered by a non-Muslim native English speaker with no knowledge of the Arabic language. Although the course was respectful of Arabic culture and tradition, the content excluded an analysis of Islamic medical ethics and focused on Western ethical reasoning. Following two 45-minute interactive seminars, students in groups of 3 or 4 visited a primary health care centre for one morning, sitting in with an attending physician seeing his or her patients in Arabic. Each student submitted a personal report for summative assessment detailing the ethical issues they had observed. RESULTS: All 62 students enrolled in these courses participated. Each student acting independently was able to correctly identify a median number of 4 different medical ethical issues (range 2-9) and correctly identify and label accurately a median of 2 different medical ethical issues (range 2-7) There were no significant correlations between their English language skills or general academic ability and the number or accuracy of ethical issues identified. CONCLUSIONS: This study has demonstrated that these students could identify medical ethical issues based on Western constructs, despite learning in English, their second language, being in the third week of their medical school experience and with minimal instruction. This result was independent of their academic and English language skills suggesting that ethical principles as espoused in the four principal approach may be common to the students' Islamic religious beliefs, allowing them to access complex medical ethical reasoning skills at an early stage in the medical curriculum. (+info)
Human dignity in the Nazi era: implications for contemporary bioethics.
BACKGROUND: The justification for Nazi programs involving involuntary euthanasia, forced sterilisation, eugenics and human experimentation were strongly influenced by views about human dignity. The historical development of these views should be examined today because discussions of human worth and value are integral to medical ethics and bioethics. We should learn lessons from how human dignity came to be so distorted to avoid repetition of similar distortions. DISCUSSION: Social Darwinism was foremost amongst the philosophies impacting views of human dignity in the decades leading up to Nazi power in Germany. Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory was quickly applied to human beings and social structure. The term 'survival of the fittest' was coined and seen to be applicable to humans. Belief in the inherent dignity of all humans was rejected by social Darwinists. Influential authors of the day proclaimed that an individual's worth and value were to be determined functionally and materialistically. The popularity of such views ideologically prepared German doctors and nurses to accept Nazi social policies promoting survival of only the fittest humans.A historical survey reveals five general presuppositions that strongly impacted medical ethics in the Nazi era. These same five beliefs are being promoted in different ways in contemporary bioethical discourse. Ethical controversies surrounding human embryos revolve around determinations of their moral status. Economic pressures force individuals and societies to examine whether some people's lives are no longer worth living. Human dignity is again being seen as a relative trait found in certain humans, not something inherent. These views strongly impact what is taken to be acceptable within medical ethics. SUMMARY: Five beliefs central to social Darwinism will be examined in light of their influence on current discussions in medical ethics and bioethics. Acceptance of these during the Nazi era proved destructive to many humans. Their widespread acceptance today would similarly lead to much human death and suffering. A different ethic is needed which views human dignity as inherent to all human individuals. (+info)
Cultural context in medical ethics: lessons from Japan.
This paper examines two topics in Japanese medical ethics: non-disclosure of medical information by Japanese physicians, and the history of human rights abuses by Japanese physicians during World War II. These contrasting issues show how culture shapes our view of ethically appropriate behavior in medicine. An understanding of cultural context reveals that certain practices, such as withholding diagnostic information from patients, may represent ethical behavior in that context. In contrast, nonconsensual human experimentation designed to harm the patient is inherently unethical irrespective of cultural context. Attempts to define moral consensus in bioethics, and to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable variation across different cultural contexts, remain central challenges in articulating international, culturally sensitive norms in medical ethics. (+info)