Toward a reconstruction of medical morality

Am J Bioeth. 2006 Mar-Apr;6(2):65-71. doi: 10.1080/15265160500508601.


At the center of medical morality is the healing relationship. It is defined by three phenomena: the fact of illness, the act of profession, and the act of medicine. The first puts the patient in a vulnerable and dependent position; it results in an unequal relationship. The second implies a promise to help. The third involves those actions that will lead to a medically competent healing decision. But it must also be good for the patient in the fullest possible sense. The physician cannot fully heal without giving the patient an understanding of alternatives such that he or she can freely arrive--together with the physician--at a decision in keeping with his or her personal morality and values. In today's pluralistic society, universal agreement on moral issues between physicians and patients is no longer possible. Nevertheless, a reconstruction of professional ethics based on a new appreciation of what makes for a true healing relationship between patient and physician is both possible and necessary.

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Diversity
  • Decision Making*
  • Dependency, Psychological*
  • Empathy
  • Ethical Relativism
  • Ethics, Medical* / education
  • Hippocratic Oath
  • Human Body
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Paternalism
  • Patient Participation*
  • Patients / psychology
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Physician's Role*
  • Physician-Patient Relations / ethics*
  • Sick Role
  • Social Responsibility