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Medical ethics: who decides what?
  1. M Kottow


    The FME symposium on teaching medical ethics takes up the issue of competence and responsibility in matters concerning bioethics (1). Foreseeably, the medical participants argue that physicians are prepared, or can be easily prepared, to handle all relevant aspects of medical ethics. The contrary position is sustained by the philosophically trained participants, who believe that physicians do not, in fact cannot, sufficiently manage medico-ethical problems. This paper sees a role for both parties. Medical ethicists should properly be involved in medical education and in analytical and systematic study of medical ethics. They should not generally be involved in clinical medico-moral decision-making, which is properly the realm of patient and (ethically competent) doctor.

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