Critically Thinking About Medical Ethics

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9780131824843: Critically Thinking About Medical Ethics

Adopting a critical thinking methodology in which critical thinking tools are introduced and applied to medical ethics reading, this book explains the dialogue which is formed by the readings in each chapter and clarifies how the various thinkers are responding to one another in a common discussion. The books' unified approach offers a critical thinking pedagogy, which philosophically and logically pulls the many readings and philosophies together. The book examines an introduction to moral theory and critical thinking tools, while readings address the following issues: surrogacy contracts; abortion; ethical issues at the end of life; genetics and morality; ethics and HIV/AIDS; the relationship between medical professionals and patients; research on human and non-human subjects; allocation of medical resources and justice issues in health care systems. For individuals interested in medical ethics and philosophy.

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From the Back Cover:

Robert E. Card takes an innovative approach to the study of medical ethics by introducing and applying critical thinking tools to classic and contemporary medical ethics readings. The organization of the text engages the readings in a dialogue to clarify how thinkers from diverse perspectives are responding to one another in a common discussion. The text's unified approach offers a critical thinking pedagogy, which helps students develop skills necessary for engaging in philosophical thinking, and helps students establish connections among reading selections.

FEATURES of Critically Thinking About Medical Ethics

  • Units organized around critical thinking tools—including Analogies, Slippery Slope Arguments, Legal Reasoning and Moral Reasoning, plus Analysis of Statistics and Studies
  • Introductory chapters on ethical theory and critical thinking—comprehensive discussions provide students with the necessary background to understand and critique a wide range of ethical issues in medicine
  • Extensive number of readings—over 60 readings, including classic and contemporary articles, as well as court cases and legal opinions.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The inspiration for this book stems from my dissatisfaction with other currently available texts. An acceptable textbook must reflect the breadth and depth of the debate it addresses, but should also prepare students to engage this debate. To do this requires providing resources to help students develop critical thinking skills. My fundamental belief is that students in a medical ethics/bioethics course should learn not only content regarding different thinkers' positions on the issues but also a philosophical or logical method that can be used to think more clearly about the ethical challenges posed by medicine. This book aims to make elements of this philosophical method explicit as it introduces students to the dialogue concerning central issues in medical ethics.

The dialogue in medical ethics is shaped in part by various ethical viewpoints. While thinkers accept different views, it is worth noting that bioethicists never defend their position by appealing to, say, Ethical Subjectivism. Philosophers understand why this is the case, and this is so natural that it probably goes unnoticed. Yet students deserve to know that this is not merely an accident. In order to explain and philosophically justify why thinkers in medical ethics explicitly rely on a relatively small number of ethical outlooks when presenting their views, this book includes a comprehensive introduction to ethical perspectives (Chapter 1).

Also, philosophical thinkers in medical ethics presume more than a passing familiarity with arguments when presenting their case. This book includes a separate introductory chapter (Chapter 2) on critical thinking, which will help students become more careful critics and make them more reflective about their own thinking. Chapter 1 contains Critical Thinking Interludes, which present and discuss case studies that are then related to important facets of the ethical perspectives just explained. The purpose of these Critical Thinking Interludes is to naturally awaken students' dormant analytical powers before a more formal introduction to critical thinking occurs in Chapter 2. The explanation and discussion of the case study are completely self-contained. These Critical Thinking Interludes serve as "helping hands" that model for students the type of questions relevant to a philosophical examination of an issue.

The critical thinking theme is not simply forgotten once the introductory chapters are completed. The sections containing the readings are divided into four units, and each unit consists of two chapters that are unified by a common "Critical Thinking Tool" that is explained and applied to several readings from that unit. These "Critical Thinking Tools" relate to the background critical thinking material explained in Chapter 2, yet are also independent since their explanation and application is contained within the Unit Introductions. For example, Unit II contains readings on the topics of surrogacy and abortion. This Unit Introduction contains a detailed explanation of analogies that then highlights and analyzes several examples of analogies from the readings in that Unit.

In addition, Unit Introductions contain an overview of the readings in that Unit, with particular emphasis on how the thinkers on each topic are responding to one another in a common dialogue. Serious effort has been expended to ensure that a balanced selection of readings representing different viewpoints are included. Further, the text contains enough readings on each topic to allow a philosophically respectable discussion of the issues.

This text contains more resources than can likely be used in a one semester medical ethics or bioethics course. I believe that is a favorable aspect of the text, since it allows flexibility in course design. In my experience, the selections contained in this text can be easily tailored to meet the needs of students of varying aptitudes and backgrounds.

The overarching goal of this text is to construct a cohesive philosophy textbook in medical ethics that offers the best in classic and contemporary readings (with a number of readings not contained in other texts). The critical thinking elements introduced and applied in the text are freestanding, and instructors who do not wish to incorporate critical thinking pedagogy in their courses are encouraged to use the text as well.

This collection offers an ample number of readings on each topic to allow for an informed discussion of the relevant issues that incorporates different viewpoints. The intention is to offer students structure to assist them in developing the skills necessary for engaging in philosophical thinking while allowing instructors the freedom to teach their courses as they see fit.

I would greatly appreciate comments and suggestions from those who use the book to learn how it might be improved. Communications may be directed to me either via email at rcard@oswego.edu or by postal mail at Department of Philosophy; State University of New York, Oswego; Oswego, NY 13126.

I would like to acknowledge those authors who have allowed me to reproduce their work in this textbook. Additionally, sincere thanks to the reviewers of this text: John J. Paris, S. J. Boston College, Anthony Preus, Binghamton University, and Louis I. Katzner, Bowling Green State University.

I believe there is reason to be proud of the sophisticated dialogue that has developed in medical ethics. It is my hope that the thinkers included in this text feel that their contributions have been accorded proper merit both in the presentation of their selections as well as in the discussion of their views. Both Ross Miller, Prentice Hall's Acquisitions Editor for philosophy, and Carla Worner, Editorial Assistant at Prentice Hall, have provided just the-right amount of support to foster this project. Finally, I thank my wife, Peggy, and our daughter, Noelle, for the special encouragement that only a loving family can provide.

FEATURES OF THE BOOK

(1) This book does not assume that students have any background in philosophy or in medicine: it is completely self-contained. It provides a thorough introduction to the ethical theories that philosophical thinkers in medical ethics employ as a backdrop in their discussions. In addition, it offers a basic introduction to logical arguments and critical thinking. This reader satisfies all the requirements for a medical ethics course; there is no need for supplementary texts.

(2) The readings have been selected to create a true dialogue among the writers and the various positions and arguments on the relevant issues in medical ethics. A concise overview of the key arguments and their relations to one other is provided in an introduction to each chapter.

(3) There is a sufficient number of readings for each topic. Currently, popular readers in medical ethics provide only a small number of selections for each subject, and hence do not allow the depth of treatment that is necessary for a philosophically respectable examination of the ethical issues in medical practice. This text remedies this problem by offering a mixture of classic and contemporary readings, including readings not contained in other medical ethics textbooks.

(4) Each unit consists of two chapters, and a critical thinking tool that appears prominently in the readings in each unit is applied in the chapter introductions. This feature builds on the foundation established in Chapter 2 on logical reasoning, and establishes a link between critical thinking and the ethical issues discussed in each chapter. Sufficient background on a relevant critical thinking tool is provided, and these tools encourage critical analysis of the readings contained in each unit. This also establishes a pedagogical theme within each unit.

(5) This reader allows sufficient flexibility in course design. The readings may be used to teach a general elective course that uses (for example) the introductory Chapters 1 and 2, as well as the chapters on surrogacy, abortion, and euthanasia. It may also be used to teach an upper-level course in biomedical ethics by using (for instance) the introductory Chapters 1 and 2, and the chapters on genetics, HIV/AIDS, medical professionalism, and experimentation on human subjects. This text is also well suited for a course on contemporary moral issues focused on life and death issues.

(6) While the readings in each unit are conceptually related to one another, this text allows ample freedom when choosing the order in which readings will be discussed. The readings from one unit also connect naturally to readings from other units. For example, readings in Chapter 4 (abortion) can be naturally related to readings in Chapter 6 (reproductive risk and prenatal diagnosis). Readings in Chapter 5 (end of life issues) connect naturally to readings in Chapter 8 (medical professionalism; informed consent and competence) and Chapter 10 allocation of medical resources). Readings in Chapter 7 (HIV/AIDS) relate closely to readings in Chapter 9 (biomedical research; clinical research in the third world).

ORGANIZATION OF THE BOOK

Chapter 1

This chapter provides a solid introduction to various moral perspectives. It explains and analyzes various ethical theories to assist students in understanding why certain perspectives have become dominant in writings on morality and ethics. It explains and critically analyzes ethical relativism, divine command ethics and natural law theory, psychological egoism, and ethical egoism. This is used to set the stage for a philosophical discussion of the perspectives of utilitarianism, Kantian and rights-based ethics, virtue/aretaic ethics, and the Rawlsian theory of justice. This chapter also contains a novel feature called critical thinking interludes. In these interludes, a case study is briefly presented, followed by a critical thinking question that relates the case study to the eth...

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