Disrupted Dialogue: Medical Ethics and the Collapse of Physician-Humanist Communication (1770-1980)

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Oxford University Press, 16.09.2004 - 344 Seiten
Medical ethics changed dramatically in the past 30 years because physicians and humanists actively engaged each other in discussions that sometimes led to confrontation and controversy, but usually have improved the quality of medical decision-making. Before then medical ethics had been isolated for almost two centuries from the larger philosophical, social, and religious controversies of the time. There was, however, an earlier period where leaders in medicine and in the humanities worked closely together and both fields were richer for it. This volume begins with the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment when professors of medicine such as John Gregory, Edward Percival, and the American, Benjamin Rush, were close friends of philosophers like David Hume, Adam Smith, and Thomas Reid. They continually exchanged views on matters of ethics with each other in print, at meetings of elite intellectual groups, and at the dinner table. Then something happened, physicians and humanists quit talking with each other. In searching for the causes of the collapse, this book identifies shifts in the social class of physicians, developments in medical science, and changes in the patterns of medical education. Only in the past three decades has the dialogue resumed as physicians turned to humanists for help just when humanists wanted their work to be relevant to real-life social problems. Again, the book asks why, finding answers in the shift from acute to chronic disease as the dominant pattern of illness, the social rights revolution of the 1960's, and the increasing dissonance between physician ethics and ethics outside medicine. The book tells the critical story of how the breakdown in communication between physicians and humanists occurred and how it was repaired when new developments in medicine together with a social revolution forced the leaders of these two fields to resume their dialogue.
 

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Inhalt

England
43
The United States Canada and New Zealand
81
The Reconvergence of Physicians and Humanists
167
Notes
223

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Über den Autor (2004)

Robert Veatch is currently a professor of medical ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and professor of philosophy at Georgetown University. For ten years previously, he was on the staff of the Hastings Center (formerly the Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences). Veatch was born in Utica, New York, and received a B.S. degree from Purdue University (1961), an M.S. from the University of California at San Francisco (1962), and a B.D. (1964), M.A.(1970), and Ph.D. (1971) from Harvard University. A lecturer and writer, Veatch is the author of many important books on ethical issues in biology and medicine. Veatch's areas of interest center on the relation of science to public policy, death and dying, and experimentation on human subjects. He has worked both to assemble numerous case studies and to advance general theoretical reflection in these areas. In A Theory of Medical Ethics (1981), he argues that current medical codes such as the Hippocratic Oath are too restrictive and lack sufficient support for comprehensive use in the medical profession. The solution, he argues, is that medicine can no longer be based on a professionally articulated code. Instead, Veatch proposes a "covenant" theory of medical ethics that resembles the traditional social contract of philosophers such as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

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