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Medical Law and Ethics

Here are three elements:1. The Big Issues (see next box)This is a way of organising the materials that you will have collected from me and elsewhere since we began the module at the end of January. This seems an important step at this juncture. There will be no new topics after Week 102. More than one way to Ethics (see second box after this)Think of this section as a ‘menu’from which you can eat well, but should not over-indulge.Choose 12-15 from the 53 possibilities and ensure that you to cover the range of issues.Don’t just binge on desserts!3. Some handy advice on ethical argumentsDistinguishEthical Approaches (e.g. Consequentialism, Deontology)Ethical Positions (e.g. Pro-Life, Pro-Choice)Ethical Concepts (e.g. Doctrine of Double Effect, Slippery Slope)Ethical Issues (e.g. Ethical status of the foetus)Moral ReasoningDeductive Moral Judgements, where the conclusion can be deduced logically from the premisses. As in:Premiss 1, it is wrong to use cannabis recreationally;Premisss 2, Z is using cannabis;Premiss 3, Z has no therapuetic reason to use cannabis;Conclusion, Z is committing a moral wrongTheory (justifies) Principle (justifies) Rule (justifies) Act. But if the theory is rejected the chain falls and is useless.Inductive Moral Judgementinductive arguments are not ‘watertight’ in the way deductive arguments are. For example (taken from a Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on ‘Inductive Logic’), although this inductive argument is strong ‘Every raven in a random sample of 3200 ravens is black. This strongly supports the following conclusion: All ravens are black.’ it does not utterly exclude the possibility that there are white ravens (cf black swans). They have a dimension of weight or strength.Here’s a moral argument that is inductive (taken from https://userweb.ucs.louisiana.edu/~kak7409/MoralReasoning.html; which is worth a look)Premiss 1, Killing in self-defense is morally permitted.Premiss 2, Capital punishment is much like a society killing someone in self-defense.Conclusion, Probably, capital punishment is morally permitted.Note the evaluative ‘much like’ in premiss 2. How much like? That’s a matter of strength and requires a value-judgement.Rules, Principles and Theories are often identified through analysis of existing Acts/Cases (social agreements and practices)The Purposes of Ethical DebateTo identify the right thing to do in a given situationTo persuade others to do the right thing in a given situationTo resolve moral conflict (involves looking at the facts and principles that are used to justify the various oppposing positions)Beauchamp & Childress: Criteria for Theory Construction(from 8th edition of their Principles of Biomedical Ethics (New York: OUP, 2019) pp 386ffClarityCoherenceCompleteness & ComprehensivenessSimplicityExplanatory PowerJustificatory PowerOutput Power (the potential to generate new conclusions, rather than simply categorise old ones)PracticabilityPre-requisites for effective ethical debate:The facts should be agreed,There must be a common understanding of terms and concepts,The different ethical approaches used must be identified and appreciated, andRespect must be given to the moral position of others.