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Books, Journals, New Media
November 15, 2000

EthicsA Short History of Medical Ethics

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 2000;284(19):2527-2528. doi:10.1001/jama.284.19.2527-JBK1115-4-1

Albert Jonsen, whose previous work helped first to shape and later to chronicle the post-1950s emergence of bioethics, provides here a brief overview of medical ethics from ancient Greece and Asia to the 1940s, in what might be called a "prequel" to his rich 1998 eyewitness history, The Birth of Bioethics (reviewed in JAMA March 3, 1999). Jonsen argues that before modern bioethics, a "long tradition" of common ideas about medical ethics emerged wherever formal written healing systems developed. He concludes that respect for life, competence, compassion, politeness, and nondiscrimination are among the most important elements of this tradition.

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