Bioethics and Professional Medical Ethics: Mapping and Managing an Uneasy Relationship

Chapter
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 100)

Abstract

Looking back on the development of the field of bioethics in the 1970s, one can now discern what was not so clear at the time: an uneasy relationship between bioethics and professional medical ethics, especially what Albert Jonsen (2000, 2009) has called the “long tradition” of medical ethics that preceded bioethics. On the one hand, there is a strand in early bioethics that treats bioethics as the application of ethical theory to problems in biomedical practice, research, and policy, a self-understanding of bioethics that deprofessionalized medical ethics. On the other hand, there is a strand in early bioethics that takes professional medical ethics seriously and includes professional medical ethics in the self-understanding of bioethics. In this chapter, I map this tension. In my judgment, the first strand has dominated the literature and its cutting-edge, reforming discourse continues to generate an excitement that draws students to undergraduate and graduate courses in bioethics in our colleges and universities. The second strand is less exciting, because it is conservative in that identifies what we should value in the history of medical ethics and therefore preserve and strengthen. This second strand properly shapes ethics teaching in our medical schools. I will propose to manage the uneasy relationship between bioethics and professional medical ethics, a problematic that we inherit from the early days of the field, by defending the second strand, by offering a defense of conservative, professional medical ethics.

Keywords

Medical Ethic Medical Practitioner Sick Person Ethical Concept Hippocratic Oath 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dalton Tomlin Chair in Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of MedicineCenter for Medical Ethics and Health PolicyHoustonUSA

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