March 1969

Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine.

Author Affiliations

New York


By Michael Gelfand, MD. Price, $5.50. Pp 169. Williams & Wilkins Co., 428 E Preston St, Baltimore 21202, 1968.

Arch Intern Med. 1969;123(3):348-349. doi:10.1001/archinte.1969.00300130130019

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While the author shines through as a compassionate and otherwise wonderful sort of a person, I see very little reason for this book. Perhaps he belabors the obvious, but perhaps the obvious may have appeared rare to him, which may be his reason for writing the book. Or, was his reason the desire to teach personal morality? But then, we have many sources from whom to choose—Jesus, Moses, and above all, the Judeo-Christian ethics—the canons of which are plain.

Moreover, I find something amoral, inconsistent (or at least callow), in speaking of philosophy and ethics in the context of the daily, contemporary world. We believe in competition, perforce; yet, it is inconsistent with a certain morality, since as in any competition, where there is victor, there is also vanquished. If it is fine to win, it becomes sanctimonious or hypocritical to speak of philosophy and ethics, because they do not

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