Medical Ethics, Ordinary Concepts and Ordinary Lives

Croatian Journal of Philosophy 9 (3):317-329 (2009)
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Two issues in Cowley’s book Medical Ethics, Ordinary Concepts and Ordinary Lives are discussed. The first is methodological and it concerns the relation between the personal and the impersonal perspectives. An apparent problem is represented by some uncertainties in the interpretation of their relation in Cowley’s proposal. In some cases presented by Cowley, although the agents do not give up the requirements of the personal perspective, their actions correspond to the requirements of the impersonal perspective. The question is how did the agent make the decision? The other issue is that the personal perspective, as described in some cases, seems to be concerned only by reasons relevant to the subject herself. The question is whether such a perspective may be properly called moral, or it rather deserves to be qualified as prudential, egocentric or egoistic.The second issue regards organ donation, where Cowley contrasts the cultural discourse endorsed by people personally involved because of their links to the dead person, and the bioethicists’ discourse. Some empirical data seem to challenge this distinction.



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Elvio Baccarini
University of Trieste

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