In defense of ethically caring physicians
Keywords:virtue, ethics of care, physician-patient relationship
AbstractEver since its introduction 20 years ago, the Ethics of Care has encountered sharp opposition in the context of medical practice. In this essay I endeavour to provide a systematic defence of ethical caring as a virtue for physicians. I begin by briefly describing the initial formulation of the Ethics of Care. I then present the arguments by critics who oppose ethical caring in medical practice. These arguments range from assertions that caring physicians will be more likely to suffer from professional burnout to claims that they will become more likely to be unethically paternalistic. Next, I will identify more recent contributions to the Ethics of Care from Rita Manning and Michael Slote. Armed with a more fully developed conception of ethical caring, I respond to each of the critical arguments. I finish by describing how ethical caring fits nicely with a well regarded understanding of the physicianpatient relationship.
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