HEC Forum

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 57–70 | Cite as

Understanding and Resolving Conflicting Traditions: A MacIntyrean Approach to Shared Deliberation in Medical Ethics

  • Jessica AdkinsEmail author


The position of clinical ethicist exists to help resolve conflicts in the hospital. Sometimes these conflicts arise because of fundamental cultural differences between the patient and the medical team, and such cases present special challenges. Should the ideology of modern medicine reject the wishes of those who hold ideologies from differing cultures? How can the medical ethicist help resolve such conflicts? To answer these questions, I rely on the works of Alasdair MacIntyre. Using MacIntyre’s philosophy, we can better understand why traditions exist, how conflicts arise, and how opposing traditions can collaborate in shared decision making. In order to overcome conflict, I conclude that MacIntyre’s virtues of acknowledged dependence must be realized by the ethicist and those in disagreement over tradition. I use a case study of a young Amish patient to highlight the conflicts that arise and to help exhibit how shared decision making can be made possible.


Shared deliberation MacIntyre Virtues of acknowledged dependence Epistemic crisis Decision making 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflicts of interest and has no sources of funding to declare. This article has not been published elsewhere and is not under review by any other journals.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySaint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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