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Ethical theories as multiple models
  1. Isaac A Wagner
  1. University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Isaac A Wagner, Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Kobenhavn, Denmark; wagner.isaac2009{at}


Hardman and Hutchinson claim that ethics is ‘grounded in particular, everyday concerns’. According to them, an implication of this is that ethics courses for (future) clinicians should de-emphasise teaching the theories and principles of philosophical ethics and focus instead on pedagogical activities more closely related to everyday concerns, for example, exposure to real patient accounts. I respond that, even if ethics is an ‘everyday’ phenomenon, learning philosophical ethics may be of significant practical benefit to clinicians. I argue that the theories of philosophical ethics can reasonably be interpreted as partial, simplified descriptions—or models—of moral phenomena, and that they can be effectively deployed in tandem by clinicians as complementary decision-making tools for help in navigating ethically complex situations in the clinic.

  • ethics
  • ethics- medical
  • education

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  • Contributors IW is the sole contributor to this work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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