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Is Rorty’s Neopragmatism the “Real” Foundation of Medical Ethics: a Search for Foundational Principles
Amer Clin Clim Asso (2006)
  • William T. Branch, Jr. Md, MACP, Emory University
Abstract
Principlism, the predominate approach to bioethics, has no foundational principles. This absence of foundations reflects the general intellectual climate of postmodern relativism. Even America’s foremost public philosopher, Richard Rorty, whose pragmatism might suggest a philosophy of commonsense, seems to be swimming in the postmodern swamp. Alternatively, principlism’s architects, Beauchamp and Childress, suggest a constantly evolving reflective equilibrium with some basis in common morality as a workable framework for twenty-first century bioethics. The flaw in their approach is failure to conform to real doctors’ and patients’ experiences. Real doctors adopt a scientific paradigm that assumes an objective reality. Patients experience real suffering and seek effective cures, treatments, palliation and solace. The foundation of medical ethics should be that doctors altruistically respond to their patients’ suffering using scientifically acceptable modalities. Compassion, caring, and respect for human dignity are needed as guides in addition to justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence and respect for autonomy.
Publication Date
2006
Citation Information
William T. Branch. "Is Rorty’s Neopragmatism the “Real” Foundation of Medical Ethics: a Search for Foundational Principles" Amer Clin Clim Asso (2006)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/william_t_branch_jr/31/