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Against medical ethics: opening the can of worms.
  1. J Cassell
  1. University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton.


    In a controversial paper, David Seedhouse argues that medical ethics is not and cannot be a distinct discipline with it own field of study. He derives this claim from a characterization of ethics, which he states but does not defend. He claims further that the project of medical ethics as it exists and of moral philosophy do not overlap. I show that Seedhouse's views on ethics have wide implications which he does not declare, and in the light of this argue that Seedhouse owes us a defence of his characterization of ethics. Further, I show that his characterization of ethics, which he uses to attack medical ethics, is a committed position within moral philosophy. As a consequence of this, it does not allow the relation between moral philosophy and medical ethics to be discussed without prejudice to its outcome. Finally, I explore the relation between Seedhouse's position and naturalism, and its implications for medical epistemology. I argue that this shows us that Seedhouse's position, if it can be defended, is likely to lead to a fruitful and important line of inquiry which reconnects philosophy and medical ethics.

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