Table 1

The distinctiveness of medical ethics

CounterexamplesDuties of medical ethicsCommon morality versus medical ethics
1. Look after your own interests.Act for the good of patients and society.A moral ideal is transformed into a duty.
2. Make choices your own way.Base decisions on scientific evidence.A moral ideal is transformed into a duty.
3. Share information.Confidentiality.Permissible behaviour is impermissible.
4. Judge the worth of others.Non-judgmental regard.Permissible behaviour is impermissible.
5. Enjoy sexual interaction.Non-sexual regard.Permissible behaviour is impermissible.
6. Mind your own business.Probe (with examination, tests and questions).Impermissible behaviour is a duty.
7. Presume others have autonomy.Assess decisional capacity.Impermissible behaviour is a duty.