Bioethics : A Return to Fundamentals / Edition 1

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Overview


An updated and expanded successor to Culver and Gert's Philosophy in Medicine, this book integrates moral philosophy with clinical medicine to present a comprehensive summary of the theory, concepts, and lines of reasoning underlying the field of bioethics. Rather than concentrating narrowly on bioethics and investigating moral philosophy only marginally, the authors provide an explicit account of common morality and show how it applies to and is modified by the realities of clinical medicine. Such broader knowledge finds its specific practical application when one attempts to resolve the more complex and difficult cases.
This book does not attempt to settle all controversial matters, but rather provides an ethical framework that various parties to the dispute can accept and use as a basis for reaching agreement. Thus, the authors' main goal is to facilitate ethical discussion. Their detailed analyses of death and disease maintain the theoretical objectivity of these concepts while recognizing their central role in social and medical practices. They also provide in-depth discussions of the central concepts and issues in bioethics: competence, consent, justification for moral rule violations, and confidentiality. Paternalism, one of the most pervasive problems in clinical medicine, is accorded special attention. All these concepts have been integrated and systematically grounded within common morality. The book is richly illustrated with discussions of clinical cases. The authors explicitly compare their position with other accounts of bioethics such as principlism, casuistry, and virtue theory. Their discussion of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide clarifies and evaluates the recent legal decisions on these topics. The arguments throughout the volume stand out with characteristic clarity and cogency.
A fresh and all-encompassing approach to bioethics that does not shy away from controversy, Bioethics: A Return to Fundamentals will interest not only students in philosophy of medicine and medical ethics courses, but also moral philosophers and bioethicists, as well as doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals.

The book contains no figures.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Chris Hackler, PhD (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences)
Description: The first three chapters of this book present an ethical framework based on the rules of common morality, which prohibit harmful behavior such as killing, deceiving, and causing pain. The fourth chapter is a critique of the most widely accepted theoretical account in terms of competing principles, such as beneficence, autonomy, and justice. Each of the remaining eight chapters deals with a central concept or issue in medical ethics in light of the theory presented.
Purpose: The authors' purpose is to illustrate the grounding of bioethics in our common morality by making its rules, ideals, and methods of reasoning explicit and then relating them to the fundamental concepts and issues of medical ethics.
Audience: The book will be most interesting and accessible to bioethicists and students of bioethics. It can be read with profit by professionals with no background in moral philosophy, but the rigorous and sustained philosophical argumentation may be slow going for some.
Features: The book is a monograph and as such has no illustrations, tables, or other unique features. The book is full of careful, rigorous conceptual analysis and argument. The prose sometimes is rather dense, and it proceeds at a philosopher's pace. This is not a criticism of the book, but a warning that readers not used to the detailed and meticulous style of analytic philosophy may require some patience.
Assessment: Books on medical ethics typically begin with a chapter on ethical theory that summarizes the leading theories of our Western philosophical tradition, such as utilitarianism, formalism, and libertarianism, then move to a discussion of ethical issues in medicine, leaving it to the reader to "apply" the various theories to the issues in an ad hoc manner. The authors are correct that this approach promotes superficiality and inconsistency. They offer a deeper and more fully integrated treatment of the subject by developing their own theory of morality and then using it to illuminate and resolve particular moral issues. The discussions of competency, consent, and paternalism are especially rewarding. The last chapter, which deals with terminating life-sustaining treatment, physician-assisted suicide, and active euthanasia, is not as well organized and focused as the others. On the last two topics, especially, the argument is imprecise and inconclusive, perhaps reflecting the lack of complete agreement among the authors on the subject. The book is a significant contribution to the field of medical ethics and deserves a studious reading. It is recommended for purchase by college and university libraries as well as libraries on health sciences campuses. Individuals studying or working in medical ethics will want to have their own copy as well.
Chris Hackler
The first three chapters of this book present an ethical framework based on the rules of common morality, which prohibit harmful behavior such as killing, deceiving, and causing pain. The fourth chapter is a critique of the most widely accepted theoretical account in terms of competing principles, such as beneficence, autonomy, and justice. Each of the remaining eight chapters deals with a central concept or issue in medical ethics in light of the theory presented. The authors' purpose is to illustrate the grounding of bioethics in our common morality by making its rules, ideals, and methods of reasoning explicit and then relating them to the fundamental concepts and issues of medical ethics. The book will be most interesting and accessible to bioethicists and students of bioethics. It can be read with profit by professionals with no background in moral philosophy, but the rigorous and sustained philosophical argumentation may be slow going for some. The book is a monograph and as such has no illustrations, tables, or other unique features. The book is full of careful, rigorous conceptual analysis and argument. The prose sometimes is rather dense, and it proceeds at a philosopher's pace. This is not a criticism of the book, but a warning that readers not used to the detailed and meticulous style of analytic philosophy may require some patience. Books on medical ethics typically begin with a chapter on ethical theory that summarizes the leading theories of our Western philosophical tradition, such as utilitarianism, formalism, and libertarianism, then move to a discussion of ethical issues in medicine, leaving it to the reader to ""apply"" the various theories to the issues in an adhoc manner. The authors are correct that this approach promotes superficiality and inconsistency. They offer a deeper and more fully integrated treatment of the subject by developing their own theory of morality and then using it to illuminate and resolve particular moral issues. The discussions of competency, consent, and paternalism are especially rewarding. The last chapter, which deals with terminating life-sustaining treatment, physician-assisted suicide, and active euthanasia, is not as well organized and focused as the others. On the last two topics, especially, the argument is imprecise and inconclusive, perhaps reflecting the lack of complete agreement among the authors on the subject. The book is a significant contribution to the field of medical ethics and deserves a studious reading. It is recommended for purchase by college and university libraries as well as libraries on health sciences campuses. Individuals studying or working in medical ethics will want to have their own copy as well.

4 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195114300
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/28/1997
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard Gert, Ph.D., is the Eunice and Julian Cohen Professor of Ethics and Human Values at Dartmouth College.
Charles M. Culver, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Medical Education at Barry University, Miami, FL.
K. Danner Clouser, Ph.D., is Professor of Humanities at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Morality 15
3 Application 51
4 Principlism 71
5 Malady 93
6 Competence 131
7 Consent 149
8 Confidentiality 181
9 Paternalism 195
10 Justification 217
11 Death 251
12 Euthanasia 279
Index 315
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