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Festschrift edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics in honour of Raanan Gillon
  1. J Savulescu
  1. University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor J Savulescu, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Littlegate House, St Ebbes Street, Oxford OX1 1PT, UK; 

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Promoting respect for the four principles remains of great practical importance in ordinary medicine

This is a special edition of the journal to celebrate the contribution of Raanan Gillon to the field of medical ethics. The papers in this issue are from a festspiel in honour of Raanan held on the 17th of October 2003. The theme of the festspiel was method in medical ethics. Colleagues of Raanan were asked to outline their own approach to medical ethics, and how this differed from the four principles approach advocated by Raanan, as applied to four hypothetical cases which are also reproduced in this issue of the journal.1

It is a great privilege to be able to publish this series of papers, and Raanan’s reply, in the journal for several reasons.

The first and most important of these is that they are a tribute to the enormous contribution Raanan has made to the field of medical ethics. Raanan has been a pioneer in medical ethics in the United Kingdom and beyond. He edited the Journal of Medical Ethics for over 20 years, retiring in 2001. He has been instrumental in establishing medical ethics as a discipline, particularly within medical schools, in the United Kingdom.2 His book Philosophical Medical Ethics is one of the classics.3

While most people associate Raanan with his advocacy of the four principles, it is important to remember his approach is not restricted solely to application of the four principles. He is also one of the sharpest, wittiest, and most original thinkers in medical ethics. In a recent editorial,4—for example, Raanan disagreed with a judicial decision to impose separation of identical twins (against the wishes of their parents) which caused the death of one twin. He described it as “hubris”. He argued that the …

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