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The Hippocratic Oath

  • Paul Carrick
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 18)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Ethical Code Moral Duty Fourth Century Hippocratic Oath Active Euthanasia 
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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Notes

  1. 1.
    Nittis, Savas: 1940, ‘The Authorship and Probable Date of the Hippocratic Oath’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 8, 1020.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Nittis: 1939, ‘The Hippocratic Oath in Reference to Lithotomy: A New Interpretation with Historical Notes on Castration’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 7, 721.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jones, W. H. S.: 1924, The Doctor’s Oath, Cambridge Press, London, p. 48; and Edelstein: ‘Hippocratic Oath’, p. 27.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    DeVogel, C. J.: 1966, Pythagoras and Early Pythagoreanism, Royal VanGorcum Ltd., The Netherlands, p. 240. See Plato’s Symposium for related cases of personal devotion, if not adoption.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Amundsen, Darrel W.: 1974, ‘Romanticizing the Ancient Medical Profession: The Characterization of the Physician in the Greco-Roman Novel’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 48, No. 3, 323, n. 14.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Frankena, William K.: 1975, ‘The Ethics of Respect for Life’, Respect for Life: In Medicine, Philosophy, and the Law, ed. by Stephen Barker, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, p. 38.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Carrick

There are no affiliations available

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