Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 807–816 | Cite as

E-care as craftsmanship: virtuous work, skilled engagement, and information technology in health care

  • Mark Coeckelbergh
Scientific Contribution


Contemporary health care relies on electronic devices. These technologies are not ethically neutral but change the practice of care. In light of Sennett’s work and that of other thinkers (Dewey, Dreyfus, Borgmann) one worry is that “e-care”—care by means of new information and communication technologies—does not promote skilful and careful engagement with patients and hence is neither conducive to the quality of care nor to the virtues of the care worker. Attending to the kinds of knowledge involved in care work and their moral significance, this paper explores what “craftsmanship” means in the context of medicine and health care and discusses whether today the care giver’s craftsmanship is eroded. It is argued that this is a real danger, especially under modern conditions and in the case of telecare, but that whether it happens, and to what extent it happens, depends on whether in a specific practice and given a specific technology e-carers can develop the know-how and skill to engage more intensely with those under their care and to cooperate with their co-workers.


Health care Medicine E-care Ethics Virtue Knowledge Information technology Craftsmanship Skill Know-how Work Telecare Cybermedicine 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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