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Bioethical blind spots: Four flaws in the field of view of traditional bioethics

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In this paper it is argued that bioethics has tended to emphasise: ‘high tech’ areas of medicine at the expense of ‘low tech’ areas such as psychiatry; problems arising in treatment at the expense of those associated with diagnosis; questions of fact at the expense of questions of value; and applied ethics at the expense of philosophical theory. The common factor linking these four ‘bioethical blind spots’ is a failute to recognise the full extent to which medicine is an ethical as well as scientific discipline. Once this is acknowledged it leads to a full-field bioethics in which the different areas are mutually complementary. In particular, it paves the way for a fruitful two-way exchange between the more abstract aspects of philosophical theory and the contingencies of day-to-day clinical work. The arguments of the paper are illustrated with recent work on the abuse of psychiatry.

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Fulford, K.W.M. Bioethical blind spots: Four flaws in the field of view of traditional bioethics. Health Care Anal 1, 155–162 (1993).

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