Virtue in the clinic

Authored by: Matthew McCabe

The Handbook of Virtue Ethics

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9781844656394
eBook ISBN: 9781315729053
Adobe ISBN: 9781317544777


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Through the efforts of many scholars in moral philosophy, moral psychology and education, the ethics of care has emerged as a legitimate ethical approach capable of standing on its own as an alternative to the more traditional deontological and consequentialist views. At least one construal of the ethics of care casts itself as a form of virtue ethics with the motive of care or concern for others being the primary virtue to serve as the basis of moral judgement. While much of the recent literature has been directed at developing and defending the content of the approach itself, some work has been dedicated to exploring the application of the ethics of care to professional ethical contexts such as medical practice. However, applications of the virtue ethics of care to issues in biomedical ethics remain largely unexplored and it is my intention to offer some insights into what this perspective might say on a few of the many substantive moral issues in medical practice. Traditionally, the physician–patient relationship itself and most of the main issues surrounding it have been discussed in the context of deontological or consequentialist perspectives. One challenge for any formulation of virtue ethics is to recast the relationship and the issues in aretaic terms.

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