Ethics for medicine and medicine for ethics

Van Niekerk A.A. (2002)


The article investigates the extent to which recent developments in both the medical and the philosophical world have impacted on the nature and scope of medical ethics. A central question of the article has to do with the extent to which medical ethics itself is being transformed by that which it investigates. The author comes to the conclusion that these developments precipitate an ethics of responsibility. Such an ethics has the following characteristics: 1. It is a model according to which people accept responsibility for all their actions, rather than hide behind heteronomous rules and regulations. 2. People are morally accountable in terms of the universal moral claim or appeal on us (in the Levinasian sense of the word). 3. Moral responsibility is also a responsibility toward future generations. 4. An ethics of responsibility must come to terms with the moral ambivalence of phenomena and developments. 5. It is an ethics that requires imaginative steps to empower people for the acceptance of their responsibilities, particularly in the higher education sector.

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