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December 8, 1989

Becoming a Good Doctor: The Place of Virtue and Character in Medical Ethics

Author Affiliations

Dallas (Tex) Diagnostic Association

Dallas (Tex) Diagnostic Association

JAMA. 1989;262(22):3203. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430220140045

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Professor James Drane is trained as a philosopher and theologian and holds a university chair in clinical medical ethics. He tells the reader in his introduction that his purpose is to reintroduce the personal dimension into modern American medical ethics.

He criticizes the current state of ethical concerns: "... American medical ethicists practice on only one small section of the ethical turf. Focused mainly on dilemmas and quandaries, American ethicists work at finding rules and procedures for getting out of a bind." He goes on to point out, "Certainly, doctors need help with decision-making in hard cases, but the thousands of other non-conflictual medical acts also have ethical dimensions, and these need to be attended to in medical ethics." Professor Drane would steer us away from the diligent search for rules, regulations, and algorithms to govern ethical behavior and to make ethical decisions. He counsels "a style of life, or a