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August 18, 1989

The Abuse of Casuistry

JAMA. 1989;262(7):961-962. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430070109049

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Mr Jourdain:  I am in love with a lady of quality and I want you to help me write her a little note....

Philosopher:  Certainly. You want it in verse no doubt?

Mr Jourdain:  No. None of your verse for me.

Philosopher:  You want it in prose then?

Mr Jourdain:  No. I don't want it in either.

Philosopher:  [But] my dear sir, if you want to express yourself at all there are only verse or prose for it....

Mr Jourdain:  Talking, as I am now, which is that?

Philosopher:  That is prose....

Mr Jourdain:  Here I've been talking prose for forty years and never known it, and mighty grateful I am for you telling me!Molière, The Would-Be GentlemanThe recent conversation between medicine and ethics has invigorated both disciplines. Compelling clinical problems have energized and popularized ethics; concepts like autonomy have become tangible daily concerns. Building on medicine's beneficent