The Journal of Medical Humanities and Bioethics

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 57-68

First online:

Physicians and patients: Moral agency in a pluralistic world

  • Erich H. LoewyAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria

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This paper examines the role of the physician in a pluralistic community. A personal and communal sense of identity must resolve a vast array of often conflicting backgrounds and contexts in order to function smoothly. Physicians are neither entitled to impose their own moral views on their patients nor expected to surrender their own moral agency. Several illustrative cases are given. The solution of inevitable conflicts is embodied within the context of the situation, but since irreconcilable differences remain, a resolution is not always possible. Tolerance for such differences and ways of dealing with them allows the integrity of both parties to remain intact.