Ethics and Medical Practice Essay example

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Ethics and Medical Practice

Since Alasdair MacIntyre's landmark book, After Virtue, there has been renewed interest in the role of the virtues in the moral life and attention paid to reappropriating the Aristotelian notion of a "practice." (1) Recent reappropriations of the virtues and virtue theory in medical ethics have contributed to conceiving more adequately the nature of good medicine. In this paper, I wish to explore some of these insights and the special relevance the notion of a practice has in an account of good medicine. Yet, I want to suggest, too, that much remains to be done. This renewed attention to the virtues needs to be supplemented by a similar reappropriation and transposition of the notion of nature in order to
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In the case of medicine, the good of a practice is confirmed not simply in a person being treated successfully on a given day but that many are cared for everyday. This provision of health care is conditioned by a vast array of organizations including not only hospitals and clinics but also universities and research institutes and those insurance corporations and government organs which finance the operations of all of them. Thus, medicine is never merely a private practice. Its continued success depends upon the well-functioning of a score of medical, economic, and political institutions.

As frameworks of human cooperation, practices or institutions set the concrete conditions for the acquisition of habits and skills. Practices demand the regular and recurrent performance of certain tasks, and their swift, adept, if not masterful performance depends upon the acquisition of the appropriate competences. Under the weight of large numbers of individuals in demand for these services and the complexity of human organizations, this exigence is only heightened and the demand for the required habits and skills that much more keenly felt. As a case in point, the provision of health care has become enormously complicated involving the specialized activities of hosts of individuals occupying a myriad of roles, from physicians

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