History of medicine is taught in West Germany as part of the standard course offerings for medical students and is well represented at many universities. But history of science and technology unfortunately still lacks any adequate supporting system and accordingly barely continues to survive at a few institutions of the Federal Republic. Although history of medicine serves a different function than history of science and technology, closer cooperation between these groups is possible and greatly (...) desired for the future. (shrink)
A popular saying attributed to Aristotle states that ‘medicine begins where philosophy ends’—but this principle does not seem entirely valid for the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when medicine and philosophy were considered to be integral parts of the same branch of knowledge. For this reason, although today medicine and philosophy are clearly distinct disciplines, historians of ideas cannot study them entirely separately. Indeed, since the early modern era was a period of profound revision of knowledge, (...) probably only a truly interdisciplinary investigation can identify the conceptual shifts and transfers capable of reinstating medicine in its fundamental role in the development of civilisation and modern thought, in particular as a model of a rational knowledge aimed at improving the social good through a fitting interpretation of experience. This article intends to offer arguments in support of such a historiographical approach, and to illustrate certain interesting methodological ideas that emerge from a study in which the history of philosophy and history of medicine cross-pollinate. (shrink)
A case-study, small-group-discussion (“focal problem”) exercise in the history of medicine was designed, piloted, and evaluated in an overseas course and an on-campus elective course for medical students. Results suggest that this is a feasible approach to teaching history of medicine which can overcome some of the problems often encountered in teaching this subject in the medical curriculum.
Respect for Autonomy has been a mainstay of medical ethics since its enshrinement as one of the four principles of biomedical ethics by Beauchamp and Childress’ in the late 1970s. This paper traces the development of this modern concept from Antiquity to the present day, paying attention to its Enlightenment origins in Kant and Rousseau. The rapid C20th developments of bioethics and RFA are then considered in the context of the post-war period and American socio-political thought. The validity and utility (...) of the RFA are discussed in light of this philosophical-historical account. It is concluded that it is not necessary to embrace an ethic of autonomy in order to guard patients from coercion or paternalism, and that, on the contrary, the dominance of autonomy threatens to undermine those very things which have helped doctors come to view and respect their patients as persons. (shrink)