What is medical ethics and how do we do it?


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This is the Powerpoint presentation for Module 1 of an online Medical Ethics course offered by Bowling Green State University.

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What is medical ethics and how do we do it?

  1. 1. What Is Medical Ethics and How Do We Do It?<br />Medical Ethics-Online Course<br />Summer 2011<br />Eli Weber, Instructor<br />
  2. 2. Lecture Goals<br /><ul><li>Explain the distinction between Medical Ethics and Bioethics
  3. 3. Articulate the conflict between Autonomy and Paternalism in Medical Ethics
  4. 4. Discuss the role of principles, theory, and arguments in Medical Ethics</li></li></ul><li>Medical Ethics vs. Bioethics<br />Medical Ethics<br />Relies on the professional ethics of the medicine, as well as social and legal codes of conduct for medical practitioners<br />Role or activity based obligations<br />Teleological<br />Bioethics<br />Challenges the content of professional ethics<br />Applies ethical generalities to medical practice<br />Obligations follow from rights of patients/research subjects<br />Deontological <br />
  5. 5. Autonomy vs. Paternalism: The Central Conflict in Medical Ethics<br />Autonomy<br />Agents have a right to be self-determining; individuals have a right to conduct their lives as they see fit<br />Autonomy is typically taken to be a core component of a “good life.”<br />Paternalism<br />It is sometimes legitimate to restrict agent autonomy, for their own good.<br />Soft paternalism-agent is incompetent in some relevant way<br />Hard paternalism-agent has less-than-ideal values<br />
  6. 6. How Does This Conflict Emerge in Medical Ethics?<br />Some Examples…<br />A patient wants to participate in an experimental drug trial, but their terminal illness has made them desperate, so that they are willing to agree to almost anything that might help them.<br />A patient is more likely to be responsive to a treatment regiment if they maintain a positive attitude about their prognosis, but in fact their prognosis is quite poor.<br />A couple undergoing IVF opts not to rely on genetic testing in selecting which embryo to implant, even though they have a history of Tay-Sach’s disease in their family.<br />There is overwhelming data linking health problems to certain types of food. Frequently, physicians see patients with serious obesity issues, yet those patients are not there for anything related to their weight. <br />
  7. 7. Theories vs. Principles<br />Theories<br />Utilitarianism<br />Virtue Ethics<br />Deontology<br />Contractarianism<br />Principles<br />Autonomy<br />Beneficence<br />Utility<br />Justice<br />
  8. 8. Arguments<br />Validity<br />Assesses logical relationships between premises<br />Evaluated without regard to the truth of premises.<br />If Karl is a person, Karl is a desk lamp.<br />Karl is a person.<br />3. Therefore, Karl is a desk lamp.<br />
  9. 9. Soundness<br /><ul><li>Includes, but it not limited to validity
  10. 10. Evaluates whether the premises are true</li></ul>A sound argument is a valid argument with true premises. Arguments can be valid, but not sound. They cannot be sound unless they are valid. <br />
  11. 11. Relativism<br />Two types<br />-Individual-whether some action is right or wrong depends on whether I think it’s wrong.<br />-Cultural-whether some action is right or wrong depends on whether the relevant group thinks its wrong.<br />
  12. 12. Religion in Ethics<br />It has often been held, and is still believed by many people, that questions about right and wrong are questions about what some religious faith says about the matter.<br />This is problematic in Medical Ethics.<br />-Religious diversity<br />-Ethical questions beyond the scope of religious perspectives<br />
  13. 13. The Bottom Line<br />We are concerned with providing reasons for thinking that some ethical conclusion is true. We are also interested in the basis of those reasons. Your job as a student of medical ethics is to be as thorough as possible in identifying all the reasons for and against an ethical conclusion, and thinking critically about those reasons. If you do that, you are doing ethics. <br />