Pellegrino and Siegler have argued that medical ethics must be taught 'at the bedside', or clinically. This paper is an attempt to establish the need for clinical teaching of medical ethics both to medical students and to medical ethicists who are not physicians. Through a critique of six positions regarding the aims of medical ethics, four principles are established which are the basis of a philosophy of education for medical ethics. The need for a clinically-based educational programme in medical ethics is thereby established, not on practical grounds, but on solid philosophical ones. The paper concludes with practical examples of a clinically-based medical ethics programme following from the four principles.
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