: Bioethics has focused on the areas of individual ethical choices--patient care--or public policy and law. There are, however, important arenas for ethical choices that have been overlooked. Health care is populated with intermediate arenas such as hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, and health care systems. This essay argues that bioethics needs to develop a language and concepts for institutional ethics. A first step in this direction is to think about institutional conscience.
Several recent attempts to develop models of moral reasoning have attempted to use some form of casuistry as a way to resolve the moral controversies of clinical ethics. One of the best known models of casuistry is that of Jonsen and Toulmin who attempt to transpose a particular model of casuistry, that of Roman Catholic confessional practice, to contemporary moral disputes. This attempt is flawed in that it fails to understand both the history of the model it seeks to transpose (...) and the morally pluralistic context of secular, postmodern society. The practice of casuistry which Jonsen and Toulmin wish to revive is a practice set in the context of a community with a shared set of moral values and structures of moral authority. Without a set of common moral values and rankings, and a moral authority to interpret cases the casuistry of the postmodern age will be pluralistic; that is, there will be many casuistries not just one. Keywords: casuistry, common morality, kinetics, moral authority, moral pluralism, morphology, paradigm cases, taxonomy CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
: During the past decade there has been a debate about the field of philosophy of medicine. The debate has focused on fundamental questions about whether the field exists and the nature of the field. This article explores the debate and argues that it has paid insufficient attention to the social dimensions of both philosophy and medicine. The article goes on to argue that by exploring this debate one can better understand some of the difficult questions facing contemporary medicine and (...) health care. (shrink)
Practices such as physician assisted suicide, even if legal, engender a range of moral conflicts to which many are oblivious. A recent proposal for physician assisted suicide provides an example by calling upon physicians opposed to suicide to refer patients to other, more sympathetic, physicians. However, the proposal does not address the moral concerns of those physicians for whom such referral would be morally objectionable. Keywords: collaboration, euthanasia, intrinsic evil, material cooperation, projects, referral, toleration CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
At its root meaning a “crisis” is a separation. In our everyday lives we use the term crisis to designate a period of decision. A crisis is a moment of separation when one must make a decision about a direction. To make a crisis decision, a person needs some criteria or set of norms to guide the decisions that are made. Sometimes, at a moment of crisis decisionmaking, there is chaos when one does not know which norm to use in (...) making a decision. Without some norm a crisis is a significant loss of direction because there are different criteria for deciding which way to turn or how to decide. It is in this most fundamental sense that one can say that contemporary medicine is in crisis. (shrink)
James Tallmon has argued that my criticisms of Jonsen and Toulmin are ill founded. Tallmon argues that Jonsen and Toulmin argue for a method of rhetorical reasoning and not for a particular content. He argues that if one distinguishes the content and method of casuistry the Jonsen-Toulmin model can work. But Tallmon, like Jonsen and Toulmin, cannot escape the need for casuistry to have a content. Tallmon's response evidences that need since he assumes that there is a ‘Medical Community’ which (...) has a moral vision. Keywords: casuistry, content, Jonsen, method, rhetoric, Tallmon, Toulmin CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
In the postscript to Wittgenstein and the Mystical, Sontag notes that while most philosophers attend to Wittgenstein's technical work in logic and the philosophy of language, there is little attention given to his "life situation." Yet, Sontag argues throughout this fine book, understanding many of Wittgenstein's philosophical insights depends on understanding how the wider concerns of his life influenced and related to his philosophical concerns. While Wittgenstein was concerned with the clarity of philosophical language, he recognized that beyond the confines (...) of such language was what Sontag calls "the mystical" and much of what makes human life meaningful. Put another way, Wittgenstein's logical and linguistic concerns were but a part of his larger concerns about human life and the logical and linguistic interests are better understood when seen as part of this wider context. (shrink)
Bioethics evolved from traditional physician ethics and theological ethics. It has become important in contemporary discussions of Medicine and ethics. But in contemporary secular societies the foundations of bioethics are minimal in their content and often rely on procedural ethics. The bioethics of particular communities, particularly religious communities, are richer than the procedural ethics of a secular society. Religious bioethics, situated within religious communities, are richer in content in general and in the lived reality.
When many people think of bioethics, they think of gripping issues in clinical medicine such as end-of-life decision-making, controversies in biomedical research such as that over work with stem cells, or issues in allocating scarce health-care resources such as organs or money. The term “bioethics” may evoke images of moral controversies being discussed on news programs and talk shows. But this “controversy of the day” focus often treats ethical issues in medicine superficially, for it addresses them as if they could (...) be examined and discussed in isolation from the context in which they are situated. Such a focus on the latest controversies fails to take into account that medicine is a social institution and that the controversies in bioethics often reflect deeper social and moral issues that transcend the boundaries of medicine and ethics. If one moves beyond the issue-of-the-day approach to bioethics, one can see that the field must address these deeper issues. (shrink)