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Bioethics in the Clinic

, 328 pages
April 2004
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Bioethics in the Clinic

Hippocratic Reflections

Selected by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title

What is so special about human life? What is the relationship between flesh and blood and the human soul? Is there a kind of life that is worse than death? Can a person die and yet the human organism remain in some real sense alive? Can souls become sick? What justifies cutting into a living human body? These and other questions, writes neurosurgeon and philosopher Grant Gillett, pervade hospital wards, clinical offices, and operating rooms.

In Bioethics in the Clinic: Hippocratic Reflections, Gillett brings the tools of philosophy to bear on some of the most pressing issues confronting bioethicists today. Gillett draws on many schools of thought, including analytic, moral, and postmodern philosophy; utilitarianism; classical ethical theory; phenomenology; and metaphysics. He engages the reasoning of such philosophers as Aristotle, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Foucault, Habermas, Levinas, and Martha Nussbaum, and offers both practical and clinical insights into such topics as the principle of "Do no harm," informed consent, confidentiality, cloning, and euthanasia.

Opening with an explanation of the axioms to be traced throughout succeeding discussions, with special emphasis on Hippocratic principles, Gillett focuses on general and specific problems of clinical practice, particularly as they affect the physician-patient relationship. The author then goes on to address ethical problems related to both the end of life, including euthanasia, and the beginning of life, such as embryo and stem cell research. Rigorous and elegant, this book will be of interest to those in medical fields, to students and scholars of philosophy, and to lay readers interested in the profound ethical dramas played out in hospitals and doctors' offices every day.

Grant R. Gillett, M.B. Ch.B., D.Phil. is a professor of medical ethics at the University of Otago Medical School in Dunedin, New Zealand. He is the author of The Mind and Its Discontents: An Essay in Discursive Psychiatry, Consciousness and Intentionality, and Representation, Meaning, and Thought.

"His choice of subjects is refreshingly eclectic, including some of the usual subjects, but also ones less often covered in bioethics books... it is both philosophical and practical... worthy of consideration."

"The writing is accessible, and this book is useful for those who seek a practical approach to some of the more difficult issues in bioethics today."

"His lucid analysis strikes at the core normative issues of modern medical practice and paves the way for genuinely useful discussions among philosophers, physicians, and others interested in the future of medicine... Not only innovative but insightful."

"Grant Gillett gives eloquent voice to a fresh bioethical sensibility nourished by keen conceptual sophistication, intimate acquaintance with clinical realities, a broadly naturalistic understanding of moral value, and a deft use of narrative as a tool for coming to know the world. Bioethics in the Clinic is an enormously creative, enlightening, and altogether attractive book."

"This book comes highly recommended to all health practitioners, and especially... where standard care can have major ethical implications."

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