[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
December 18, 1981

A Philosophical Basis of Medical Practice: Toward a Philosophy and Ethic of the Healing Professions

Author Affiliations

Medical College of Virginia Richmond


by Edmund D. Pellegrino and David C. Thomasma, 342 pp, with illus, $11.95, New York, Oxford University Press, 1981.

JAMA. 1981;246(24):2863. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320240069034

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The rapid technological, social, and economic changes in medical practice require that we know our goals and responsibilities.

To confront the ongoing public debates regarding the judicial and legislative controls of medical care, bureaucratization, malpractice, increased medical costs, and other problems necessitates a concern for a philosophy and ethics of medicine. The authors of this book write, "A philosophy of medicine is needed to form an integrating principle for its splintering specialities, to offer a rational, scientific explanation of its methods; and to discover the relationship between Eastern and Western medical systems... to help clarify medicine's goals in relationship to those of a technological civilization."

The scope of the book includes both historical and practical discussions of medicine and methods of philosophy. It gives us both a definition and a critique of medicine and provides an excellent discussion of what is required for the development of clinical judgment as the