Some Conceptual and Methodological Observations on the History of Ethics of Diagnosis

  • Darrel Amundsen
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 40)


The medical morality of any society is, for the most part, roughly congruous with the broader moral perceptions of that society. Medical ethics, as a subset of any society’s ethics, may be as varied as the society’s ethics is pluralistic and as muddled as the society’s ethics is confused. Whenever and wherever that which can be called medicine (even if it is a magico-religious medicine) is practiced by individuals who function as healers in society (even if their healing role is only one of several of their functions), there is an ethical framework in which such healing activities occur. This is true even in societies in which there was no medical literature, much less a distinct genre of medical ethics. But most of the diverse issues that today constitute bioethics first arose in the literature only when social, religious, philosophical, or economic change or scientific and tehnological advances created new moral conundrums or highlighted either certain ethical presuppositions or operative ethical strictures that required examination and clarification. Obviously the development and implementation of new medical technology have created and continue to create ethical dilemmas. Furthermore, new bioethical categories are sometimes created when aspects of medical epistemology or procedures are first examined with a view to their ethical implications or are examined afresh.


Medical Ethic Diagnostic Process Philosophical System Nosological System Diagnostic Phase 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darrel Amundsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Washington University BellinghamWashingtonUSA

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