August 1987

Ethically Permissible

Author Affiliations

Department of Theology Marquette University Milwaukee, WI 53233

Arch Intern Med. 1987;147(8):1381-1384. doi:10.1001/archinte.1987.00370080017003

We believe it was ethically permissible to withdraw nutrition from this patient.1 In recent years, articles and correspondence on the ethical dimensions of health care have become increasingly more frequent in professional medical journals, and the view expressed, regarding many medicomoral dilemmas, in the opening sentence (or words to that effect) is a common one. Such a proliferation in the literature bears eloquent witness to the perennial (and, hence, contemporary) realization that the art-science of medicine is quintessentially an ethical enterprise. As Dr Erich H. Loewy2 notes:

Ethics is and has always been as much a part of the practice of medicine as an understanding of pathophysiology. In the Eber's papyrus, Babylonian medicine, Hebrew writing, or the Hippocratic corpus, ethics was no less a part of the medical practice than an understanding of disease process.

Plato considered the difference between "art" and "craft" to be that art had

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