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December 8, 1989

Clinical Ethics: Theory and Practice

Author Affiliations

Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee

JAMA. 1989;262(22):3205-3206. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430220142049

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


Medical ethics has really arrived; ethicists are having turf battles. At first glance these skirmishes may seem distasteful or even churlish, but this is, after all, real turf. At stake is the burgeoning clinical and economic "enterprise" of ethics—blocks of time in medical school curricula, grants, research projects and publications, hospital ethics consultations, ethics committees and ethics committee networks, media visibility, legislative influence, and opportunities to provide "expert" testimony.

The two sides are, increasingly, those who might be called "theorists" vs those who might be called "empiricists" (or "ethical theorists" vs "applied ethicists," or "bioethicists" vs "clinical ethicists"). This book is an interesting attempt to come to terms with this Cartesian schism by addressing the nature of the discipline of medical ethics itself.

To this end, the editors have pulled together a series of essays developed from lectures given at a 1986 conference in London, Ontario, Canada. As the editors