Evaluation and Explanation in the Biomedical Sciences

Volume 1 of the series Philosophy and Medicine pp 97-111

How Virtues Become Vices: Values, Medicine and Social Context

  • Alasdair MacintyreAffiliated withBoston University

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I begin with three distinct groups of problems, each so urgent that the medical conscience ought to be — and indeed clearly is — haunted by them — and not only the medical conscience. Consider first such problems as: ought abortion to be legal? Is it ever morally right? Ought those in extremes of pain to have the right to take their own lives? Ought physicians to have the right to take the lives of patients with terminal cancer, who are in extreme pain?