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Raanan Gillon is stepping down as editor of this journal after twenty years. Thirty years ago he had the vision to see that critical thinking in ethics should be central to medical practice. Through his enormous abilities as writer, editor, philosopher and doctor he has been one of the pioneers, working in the UK, who has made that vision a reality.
In the 1970s many medical schools in the UK set up student-run groups that focused on medical ethics. These followed the lead given by Ted Shotter who had founded the flagship London Medical Group. I first met Ra when he was the keynote speaker at a national conference of these student groups in Windsor Great Park. I was a medical student at the time. After Ra's talk I asked a question, which Ra answered perfectly satisfactorily. In the afternoon, when we were let off the hook (so that Ted could watch the Oxford versus Cambridge Boat Race), Ra suggested that we go for a walk. He thought that I deserved a fuller answer to my question. I was greatly impressed by the careful thought, lively interest, and time, that he gave to the issue that I had raised.
I came to know Ra very well when I joined him as associate editor of this journal. Shortly after I started, he sent me a paper to review. He told me that this was a paper by a young doctor who had not previously published in medical ethics. He was keen to be encouraging. If I did not think the paper should be taken by the journal as it was, could I provide constructive feedback so the author could develop the article with a view to publication? The example and lead that Ra gave were clear. …
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