Dances with data

Bioethics. 1993 Jul;7(4):323-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.1993.tb00222.x.


Medical decisions concerning the end of life are a difficult matter and they evoke much emotional response. What is needed, however, is an open debate in order to improve the moral quality of decision making, not "dances with data". The central question in this debate should be, as Callahan aptly notes, whether medicine should involve itself only in that kind of "suffering which is brought on by illness and dying as biological phenomena" (emphasis added) or whether it should concern itself with the wellbeing of the patient. Apart from the fundamental question as to what types of suffering are to be considered as, at least in part biological phenomena, in The Netherlands most doctors, ourselves included, think the medical profession should do the latter.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Decision Making*
  • Ethics
  • Euthanasia*
  • Euthanasia, Active*
  • Euthanasia, Active, Voluntary*
  • Euthanasia, Passive*
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Medical Futility
  • Motivation
  • Netherlands
  • Physicians*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Suicide, Assisted*
  • Terminal Care
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Wedge Argument
  • Withholding Treatment