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August 1986

The New Medical Ethics

Arch Intern Med. 1986;146(8):1629. doi:10.1001/archinte.1986.00360200209035

To the Editor.  —Straw men, easy to erect and easier to topple, are seldom formidable opponents. Drs Sider and Clements'1 vigorous annihilation of their ten straw men exposes nothing so much as their own perspective. There are several notable areas where their citations lack substance, however.Their assertion that the "new ethics" (a pejorative term implying a departure from traditional human values) focuses on who is to choose, rather than what is chosen, is unsubstantiated; probably because they are well aware that it cannot be substantiated.They conveniently ignore the fact that many of the formal and procedural mechanisms they deride were created because patients were treated shamefully. Surely, the Tuskegee study is not to be so soon forgotten. Mechanisms were created because mechanisms were needed.It is precisely because the "human organism is a biopsychosocial unity" that respectful attention to the patients fully informed free choice is mandatory. All

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