Archive for January 15th, 2011

You can do better than me

I have of late developed something of an interest in theological ethics. So I figured reading some relevant material on the principles of philosophy and ethics might be useful.

Perhaps typing “philosophy and ethics” into the Trinity College library was a bit of a simplistic place to start but I figured it was a start.

I found this book – Philosophy and ethics of medicine – by Michael Gelfand.

Being published in the sixties by a guy who lived and worked in the country formerly known as Rhodesia didn’t make me that optimistic.

I was not to be disappointed. Or impressed.

It was kind of weak on the philosophy bit, and the ethics bit wasn’t too hot either, and I really wasn’t sure about a lot of the medicine…

Early in the book he defends “medical epistemology” as being best because it follows the scientific approach with no argument to justify why this might be best ¬†approach. Or even that other approaches exist.

This was one of my particular favourite quotes

what should the doctors attitude towards telling his patient the true nature he is prescribing for him other risks invovled in an operation he has advised? The problem is a complicated one. Firstly the doctor should avoid, if possible frightening the patient or the family lest he refuse the treatment and so endange his life

It’s much better that the medical profession should endanger your life rather than let you endanger it yourself…
Truth telling is good as long as they do what we think they should do.
And the specific drugs he was considering warning the patient about in the above quote were named as emetine (a drug that eventually ended being used to induce vomiting and is now abandoned even for that purpose), arsenic (enough said…) and antimony (which used to be used for treating parasitic diseases but we gave up on it cause it behaved a little too much like arsenic…).



January 2011
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