Interpretive bioethics: the way of discernment

Theor Med. 1990 Mar;11(1):51-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00489238.


This paper critically appraises the applied action-guide approach to bioethics and finds it wanting in two ways: it is tethered to a social contract view of the doctor-patient relationship that is largely incompatible with experiences of illness and care; and, as a formalist doctrine, it lacks critical edge and tends toward accommodationism. An alternative approach is recommended that involves interpreting moral experience by means once associated with the rhetorical arts--practical reasoning, hermeneutics, casuistry, and thick description.

MeSH terms

  • Bioethics*
  • Casuistry
  • Ethical Analysis*
  • Ethicists
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Social Values
  • Virtues