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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Nathaniel J Brown, B.S.(Saint Louis University Department of Health Care Ethics)
Description: This book asks where the field of medical healing is going. It surveys what medical healing has meant in the past, and at times hints at where it might be going in the future. It does not have a single set of recommendations for where the field should go, but rather asks the questions so that readers are left to ponder both historical precedent and current trends in forming their own answers.
Purpose: The book aims to pique interest in the concept of medical healing, and shed light on how a diverse array of fields can approach the topic.
Audience: The interdisciplinary nature of bioethics lends itself naturally to the range of questions this book asks. For this reason, it will be most useful for bioethicists and physicians with a broad interest in the philosophy of medicine.
Features: The first part, which considers various philosophical questions foundational to the concept of medical healing, moves very nicely into the next section, which deals exclusively with the concept of healing as it has been understood in different historical periods. From this point on, the book leaves behind a single narrative and adopts a more eclectic approach. Left unasked are broader questions about the concept of medical healing and the trajectory of understanding. Many expected arguments are not directly addressed, but neither are they entirely absent. Instead, broad arguments about healing are implied from the more specific subjects that the chapters in the second half of the book address. For instance, in a chapter on pharmaceutical business practices, the topic of enhancement is discussed in terms of demand. This section implies a populist answer to the question of what, or perhaps who, defines medical healing.
Assessment: The second half of the book approaches broad questions through discussions of very specific topics. This seemingly narrow focus is an interesting approach for a book that purports to be asking broad questions. While the topics initially may seem a bit discordant with the main theme, they are tied together well if one keeps the ideas from the first half prominently in mind while reading the second half.