Method and methodology in medical ethics: Inaugurating another new section
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This essay announces the inauguration of a section ofTheoretical Medicine and invites submissions on the topic “Method and Methodology in Medical Ethics.” It offers some sketches of plausible meanings of “method” and of “methodology” and their relationships as these might apply to work in biomedical ethics. It suggests a broad range of issues, dilemmas or conflicts that may be addressed for help via method and/or methodology.
Key wordsmethod methodology ultimate logic domestic logic biomedical ethics ethics medical ethics
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- 2.I have already edited two issues ofTheoretical Medicine on this topic. See Erde EL. Decision making methodology in bioethics: An introduction.Theor Med 1991;12:277–9 and Erde EL. Methodology in medical ethics decision making: Part II.Theor Med 1994;15:1–4.Google Scholar
- 3.This suggests an answer to a question I posed in the second issue I edited on this topic, i.e., why was teaching such a natural context for some authors to get readers into matters of method [Erde: 1994, pp. 3–4]? A natural way to articulate a method is to think of it as a way of teaching, teaching how to array the facts and values of a case.Google Scholar
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- 9.I did some minimizing of this sort in Erde EL. How abstract is my thinking as as an ethicist in clinical settings?Cambridge Quarterly of Health Care Ethics 1994;3:281–288.Google Scholar
- 10.There are examples of method and methodology in the two issues I edited on the subject forTheoretical Medicine [Erde: 91, Erde: 94] Despite the use of “methodology” in their titles, McCullough LB, Ashton CM. A methodology for teaching ethics in the clinical setting: A clinical handbook for medical ethics.Theor Med 1994;15:39–52, and Jonsen AR. Casuistry as methodology in clinical ethics.Theor Med 1991;12:295–308 offer what I have cast as methods or refinements of methods. Kopelman LM. Case method and casuistry: The problem of bias.Theor Med 1994;15:21–37, and Tomlinson T. Casuistry in medical ethics: Rehabilitated or repeat offender?Theor Med 1994;15:5–20 offer methodology in one sense I here intend. They critique casuistry as a method. Methodology critiques can have a narrower focus than calling them methodological might at first suggest. Kopelman: 94, zeroes in on the intellectual integrity of using cases to teach ethics and explore ethical issues. And though her points may be well taken, it is certainly the case that much of our learning and teaching in medicine and outside of it is case-based and probably unavoidably so. See Hunter KM.Doctors' Stories: The Narrative Structure of Medical Knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991, especially chapters 3 and 8.Google Scholar
- 11.As an example, though not necessarily as an exemplary one, I offer Erde: in this issue (cf. footnote 6).Google Scholar