A Short History of Medical Ethics

Paperback | June 15, 2008

byAlbert R. Jonsen

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A physician says, "I have an ethical obligation never to cause the death of a patient," another responds, "My ethical obligation is to relieve pain even if the patient dies." The current argument over the role of physicians in assisting patients to die constantly refers to the ethical dutiesof the profession. References to the Hippocratic Oath are often heard. Many modern problems, from assisted suicide to accessible health care, raise questions about the traditional ethics of medicine and the medical profession. However, few know what the traditional ethics are and how they came intobeing. This book provides a brief tour of the complex story of medical ethics evolved over centuries in both Western and Eastern culture. It sets this story in the social and cultural contexts in which the work of healing was practiced and suggests that, behind the many different perceptions aboutthe ethical duties of physicians, certain themes appear constantly, and may be relevant to modern debates. The book begins with the Hippocratic medicine of ancient Greece, moves through the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Enlightenment in Europe, and the long history of Indian and Chinese medicine,ending as the problems raised modern medical science and technology challenge the settled ethics of the long tradition.

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A physician says, "I have an ethical obligation never to cause the death of a patient," another responds, "My ethical obligation is to relieve pain even if the patient dies." The current argument over the role of physicians in assisting patients to die constantly refers to the ethical dutiesof the profession. References to the Hippocra...

Albert Jonsen, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ethics in Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. He is the author of The Birth of Bioethics (Oxford University Press, 1998), The New Medicine and the Old Ethics, and The Abuse of Cauistry with Stephen Toulmin.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:176 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.3 inPublished:June 15, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019536984X

ISBN - 13:9780195369847

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Long Tradition of Ethics in Medicine1. Hellenic, Hellenistic, and Roman Medicine: Fifth Century BCE to Third Century CE2. Medieval Medicine: Fifth to Fourteenth Centuries CE3. Medical Ethics of India and China4. Renaissance and Enlightenment: Fourteenth to Eighteenth Centuries5. British Medicine: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries6. Ethics in American Medicine7. American Medicine: Science, Competence, and Ethics8. A Chronicle of Ethical Events: 1940s to 1980s9. Conclusion: From Medical Ethics to BioethicsNotes

Editorial Reviews

"This historical analysis highlights ways in which the reflections on the role of character, moral obligations, and the relationship between the individual and the community (which stimulates contemporary bioethics) have a history that reaches deep into the past and across culturalboundaries...An important resource for a discipline just beginning to discover its historical roots."--Choice