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Books, Journals, New Media
August 5, 1998

Medical EthicsUnderpinnings of Medical Ethics

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 1998;280(5):480-481. doi:10.1001/jama.280.5.480-JBK0805-3-1

In the discipline of medical ethics, ethics and medicine come into contact. In this text, the authors' purpose is "to foster the best and most faithful formulations of both Medicine and Ethics with a view to integrating them."

Unfortunately, I cannot say that the authors have succeeded in achieving this goal, for I found their text to be sometimes turgid and confusing, sometimes assumptive in its argumentation, and sometimes simply mistaken in its assertions. However, before I offer support for these claims, let me say that my reactions are not totally negative; indeed, it seems to me that readers of this volume might benefit in at least two ways. First, the authors are scholars with an encyclopedic breadth of knowledge; thus, anyone who reads their text will undoubtedly be introduced to new information. Second, the authors often do make points that seem both useful and beneficial. For example, they are clearly on strong ground when they point out that the use of politically correct euphemisms can present barriers to ethical discussion and when they repeatedly insist upon the need for clarity and logical rigor in medical ethical discussion. However, in the final analysis, I feel forced to conclude that these strengths are outweighed by countervailing weaknesses. Some of these weaknesses relate to matters of style, others to substantive issues. I shall discuss each in turn.

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