© 2009

Moral Acquaintances and Moral Decisions

Resolving Moral Conflicts in Medical Ethics


Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 103)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Stephen S. Hanson
    Pages 101-122
  3. Back Matter
    Pages 167-174

About this book


The potential of modern medicine in a pluralistic world leads to the potential for moral conflict. The most prevalent bioethical theories often either overestimate or underestimate the amount of shared moral belief that can be used to address those conflicts. This work presents a means for taking seriously the pluralism in the modern world while recognizing the likelihood of moral "acquaintance" between persons with differing views. It criticizes moral theories that overstate the extent of the problem of pluralism as well as those that imply too much agreement between reasonable moral persons, yet it locates a means for the resolution of many moral conflicts in moral acquaintanceship. Drawing from the work of H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., casuists and principle-based theorists, and Erich Loewy and Kevin W. Wildes’s initial development of the concept of moral acquaintanceship, Moral Acquaintances and Moral Decisions is philosophically indepth work with direct applications for decisionmaking in real medical settings. A work in moral theory as well as a source of real world guidance, clinically oriented bioethics professionals as well as students of bioethical theory should find the theory of moral acquaintanceship provided here important to their work.


Moral Acquaintances Moral Justification Pluralism bioethics ethics medical ethics morality

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. PhilosophyUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleU.S.A.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Moral Acquaintances and Moral Decisions
  • Book Subtitle Resolving Moral Conflicts in Medical Ethics
  • Authors Stephen S. Hanson
  • Series Title Philosophy and Medicine
  • Series Abbreviated Title Philosophy,Medicine
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Medicine Medicine (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-90-481-2507-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-007-0522-7
  • eBook ISBN 978-90-481-2508-1
  • Series ISSN 0376-7418
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages X, 174
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Theory of Medicine/Bioethics
    Social Sciences, general
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


From the reviews: “This book engages and criticizes three major theories of moral justification: Engelhardt’s permission-based ethic, Beauchamp and Childress’ principlism, and Johnson and Toulmin’s casuist ethics. The author’s treatment of each of these theories is reasonably thorough … . The book is intended for those who want to engage seriously the idea of moral justification in the face of deep, rational moral pluralism. It is a satisfying read for those familiar with the theories he engages.” (Nathaniel J. Brown, Doody’s Review Service, January, 2010)