Advocacy: Some Reflections on an Ambiguous Term

  • H. Tristram EngelhardtJr.
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 33)


Myron Genel’s explorations bring the idea of advocacy into question: What is it to be an advocate? In Roman times, “advocatus” was the term for a legal assistant or a councillor. It was derived from the Latin “advocare”, to call or to summon one to a place, especially for council or aid. It also meant to avail oneself of someone, such as an assistant, witness, or counselor, in some cause. The formal and forensic valence of these usages is an ancient one. In English it continues to suggest a conflictual circumstance. As is conveyed by Genel’s essay, advocacy intimates the intrusion of an authority into decisions by parents regarding their children. Under such circumstances, it is unlikely that there will be a single understanding of proper advocacy or of the authority of an advocate.


State Authority Roman Time Ambiguous Term Private Resource Fiduciary Responsibility 
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  1. 1.
    Cronin, D. A.: 1958, “The Moral Law in Regard to the Ordinary and Extraordinary Means of Conserving Life”, dissertation, Gregorian University, Rome.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Engelhardt, H. T., Jr.: 1986, The Foundations ofBioethics, Oxford, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Tristram EngelhardtJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Baylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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