The Cambridge Medical Ethics Workbook
M Parker, D Dickenson. Cambridge University Press, 2001, £29.95, xiv + pp 359. ISBN 0521788633
Many health care undergraduate students would benefit from having a compact, comprehensive, and well organised focal text for their thinking about ethics that keeps the genuine complexities of the issues clearly in view. Some teachers find that certain well known works, such as Beauchamp and Childress’s Principles of Biomedical Ethics, are not satisfactory for this purpose, partly on account of their emphasis on specific theoretical positions that are not universally endorsed. But also the style of such “theory led” texts is not always accessible to students, who tend to prefer less abstraction and more immediate demonstrations of clinical relevance. The approach taken by Mike Parker and Donna Dickenson in this workbook is an attempt to satisfy the demands of teachers and students in all these respects.
Parker and Dickenson see this workbook as having several potential applications: as a resource for individual reference, and as a set text for group teaching, as well as providing materials for open learning (an area in which the authors have particular expertise). On the back of this flexibility, students in health care disciplines, qualified practitioners, as well as a non-professional audience, are all included in the book’s broad intended readership. Claims about “flexibility” can sometimes mask a lack of direction or specificity. But the authors have taken pains to ensure that their book does not suffer from these faults.
Parker and Dickenson have integrated three basic kinds of material in the production of this workbook: case studies, commentaries, and activities. The case studies are presented in …