The Hippocratic Oath
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At first sight it is indeed ironic that the so-called Hippocratic Oath, which is the most renowned medical ethical document and the one most popularly associated with Hippocrates’ name, is now judged by very few scholars to be authored by Hippocrates. What’s more, it is especially doubtful that the Oath accurately reflects the ethical values and medical practices which the Hippocratic authors favored and typically followed in their practice of medicine. In what follows, I shall undertake to argue for these two basic conclusions. My plan will be met in two steps. First, I shall critically discuss two important contemporary positions on the date, origin, and purpose of the Oath. Then I shall argue that the Oath represents essentially an esoteric ethical code which is partly, though not exclusively, of Pythagorean origin.
KeywordsEthical Code Moral Duty Fourth Century Hippocratic Oath Active Euthanasia
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