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October 15, 1982

Philosophy in Medicine: Conceptual and Ethical Issues in Medicine and Psychiatry

JAMA. 1982;248(15):1913. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330150087047

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This relatively small (201 pages) paperback book is a gem. It may be difficult to read for those uninitiated in philosophy and logic, but it is invaluable to the practitioner of medicine for understanding clearly what she is doing. There are so many issues that physicians take for granted inthe treatment of patients that Drs Culver and Gert analyze and criticize. The authors acknowledge that "the book could not have been written by either of us working separately," and indeed, it is a result of the collaboration of two disciplines—philosophy and medicine (psychiatry)—that is unique. The authors, professors at Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth College, have written extensively on philosophy and medicine and in this book provide definitions for rationality, competence, and maladies. They define and discuss these issues along with paternalism in medicine in a manner designed to alert the practitioner to what he does with patients and why