Toward a naturalized clinical ethics

Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2012 Dec;22(4):289-306.


Clinical ethicists tend to see themselves as moral experts to be called in when clinicians encounter a particularly difficult moral problem. Drawing on a naturalized moral epistemology, we argue that clinicians already have the moral knowledge they need-the norms and values that guide clinical practice are built right into the various health care professions. To reflect on their practice, clinicians need to (a) be aware of their own professional norms and values; (b) be able to express them to their colleagues, their patients, and the patients' families; and (c) work together with these other actors to provide ethically responsible care. The ethicist's job is to use her own training in three kinds of philosophical reflection as the basis for teaching clinicians how to think about what they do.

MeSH terms

  • Ethical Analysis / methods*
  • Ethicists* / standards
  • Ethics, Clinical / education*
  • Ethics, Medical / education
  • Ethics, Nursing / education
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics
  • Knowledge*
  • Morals*
  • Professional Competence* / standards
  • Thinking* / ethics
  • Third-Party Consent