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The Virtues in Medical Practice

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Overview

In recent years, virtue theories have enjoyed a renaissance of interest among general and medical ethicists. This book offers a virtue-based ethic for medicine, the health professions, and health care. Beginning with a historical account of the concept of virtue, the authors construct a theory of the place of the virtues in medical practice. Their theory is grounded in the nature and ends of medicine as a special kind of human activity. The concepts of virtue, the virtues, and the virtuous physician are examined along with the place of the virtues of trust, compassion,
prudence, justice, courage, temperance, and effacement of self-interest in medicine. The authors discuss the relationship between and among principles, rules, virtues, and the philosophy of medicine. They also address the difference virtue-based ethics makes in confronting such practical problems as care of the poor, research with human subjects, and the conduct of the healing relationship. This book woith the author's previous volumes, A Philosophical Basis of Medical Practice and For the Patient's Good, are part of their continuing project of developing a coherent moral philosophy of medicine.

This book contains no illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: James F. Bresnahan, SJ, JD, LLM, PhD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: The authors continue their quest to understand the deeper human meaning of medical practice begun in their two previous books, A Philosophical Basis of Medical Practice (1981) and For the Patient's Good (1988). In the latter book, they challenged the excessive dominance of patient autonomy in recent bioethics.
Purpose: In this book, they explore the virtue approach to ethical reflection on actual medical practice as both a complement and corrective to the principles approach, dominant in contemporary bioethics.
Audience: This should be important to all medical students and physicians who want to grasp the deeper dimensions of their life's work.
Features: The authors focus first on theoretical problems with which a virtue approach can help us deal in greater depth. They argue persuasively that we must examine the person and personal character to supply the limited perspective on "acts" characteristic of a principles approach in bioethics. Perhaps most important, in the middle section of the book they explore concrete virtues needed by persons engaged in medical caregiving: fidelity, compassion, prudence (phronesis), justice, fortitude, temperance, integrity, and self-effacement. Finally, they take on the practical challenges that a virtue approach can help us deal with especially the troublesome question of whether medical virtues can be taught.
Assessment: The authors strive to expand and deepen the range of applied ethics generally through their exploration of the virtue dimension of medical ethics, which is unfortunately too much neglected in recent writings. In the process, they cite a rich variety of authors in their end notes to each chapter; the index fails to include these names. The writing is lucid and appropriately accessible to those not specially trained in philosophy. The authors continue to demonstrate the value of cooperation between an experienced clinician and clinically astute philosopher in getting to the heart of good doctoring.
James F. Bresnahan
The authors continue their quest to understand the deeper human meaning of medical practice begun in their two previous books, A Philosophical Basis of Medical Practice (1981) and For the Patient's Good (1988). In the latter book, they challenged the excessive dominance of patient autonomy in recent bioethics. "In this book, they explore the virtue approach to ethical reflection on actual medical practice as both a complement and corrective to the principles approach, dominant in contemporary bioethics. "This should be important to all medical students and physicians who want to grasp the deeper dimensions of their life's work. "The authors focus first on theoretical problems with which a virtue approach can help us deal in greater depth. They argue persuasively that we must examine the person and personal character to supply the limited perspective on acts characteristic of a principles approach in bioethics. Perhaps most importantin the middle section of the book they explore concrete virtues needed by persons engaged in medical caregiving: fidelity, compassion, prudence (phronesis), justice, fortitude, temperance, integrity, and self-effacement. Finally, they take on the practical challenges that a virtue approach can help us deal with especially the troublesome question of whether medical virtues can be taught. "The authors strive to expand and deepen the range of applied ethics generally through their exploration of the virtue dimension of medical ethics, which is unfortunately too much neglected in recent writings. In the process, they cite a rich variety of authors in their end notes to each chapter; the index fails to include thesenames. The writing is lucid and appropriately accessible to those not specially trained in philosophy. The authors continue to demonstrate the value of cooperation between an experienced clinician and clinically astute philosopher in getting to the heart of good doctoring.

4 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195082890
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 851,519
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 6.31 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D., is John Carroll Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at Georgetown University. David C. Thomasma, Ph.D., is director of the Medical Humanities Program at Loyola University of Chicago.

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Table of Contents

PART I: Theory
1. Virtue Theory
2. The Link Between Virtues, Principles, Duties
3. Medicine as a Moral Community
4. The Ends of Medicine and its Virtues
PART II: The Virtues in Medicine
5. Fidelity to Trust
6. Compassion
7. Phronesis: The Indispensable Virtue of Medicine
8. Justice
9. Fortitude
10. Temperance
11. Integrity
12. Self-Effacement
PART III: The Practice of Virtue
13. How Does Virtue Make a Difference?
14. Can the Medical Virtues be Taught?
15. Postscript: An Integral Medical Ethics

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