December 6, 1985

Doctors' Dilemmas: Medical Ethics and Contemporary Science

Author Affiliations

Georgia State University Atlanta


by Melanie Phillips and John Dawson, 230 pp, $17.95, paper $9.50, New York, Methuen Inc, 1985.

JAMA. 1985;254(21):3110. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360210126051

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While reading this text I experienced severe ambivalence. On the one hand, the authors achieve their stated purpose; on the other hand, their purpose is such that it virtually requires superficiality. Hence my ambivalence.

In the preface, the authors state their purpose:

We think that these issues [in medical ethics] should be argued in a reasoned, reasonable manner that ordinary people can understand so that they too can participate in the determination of a framework which can guide the application of medical science. Our book is aimed at the interested public.... (page ix)

The authors accomplish this purpose. Their text is well written, easily understandable, and a palatable introduction to many of the issues troubling medical ethicists today, eg, genetic engineering, euthanasia, abortion, brain death, tissue transplants, artificial insemination, and genetic screening. In addition, the authors have appended ethical codes such as the Hippocratic Oath, the International Code of Medical