Ethics and Community in the Health Care Professions

Ethics and Community in the Health Care Professions

Ethics and Community in the Health Care Professions

Ethics and Community in the Health Care Professions


Recently debate about the relationship between individual and community has become central to the making of social policy in Europe, the United States and elsewhere. Philosophical treatment of medical ethics has come to focus on the conflict between liberal forms of patient-centred medicine and communitarian values. How far do patients rights need to be protected from community's imperatives?This book is the first to explore the importance of these conflicting approaches to health care and examines the implications of these approaches both for medical ethics and for specific areas of health care practice. Among the topics discussed are:* Liberal and communitarian views on the allocation of health care resources* Young people and family care* A European perspective on the role of IT in genetic counselling* Health care decision making for elderly patients


Professional ethics is now acknowledged as a field of study in its own right. Much of its recent development has resulted from rethinking traditional medical ethics in the light of new moral problems arising out of advances in medical science and technology. Applied philosophers, ethicists and lawyers have devoted considerable energy to exploring the dilemmas emerging from modern health care practices and their effects on the practitioner-relationship.

It is not only technological advance that has had an impact on ethical thinking about the practice of health care, however, but also the wider debates in moral and political philosophy about the contrasting perspectives of individualism and communitarianism. From the point of view of communitarian ethics the individual is regarded as essentially situated in relationships and communities which have shared values and which have a significant role to play in constructing the identity of the individual.

Michael Parker’s volume explores the tensions between the two sets of values: individualistic values—which have informed to a considerable degree the development of medical ethics—and communitarian values, and their implications for the health care professions. Through its coverage both of theoretical issues in liberalism and communitarianism and of particular issues such as the imparting of genetic information, it makes a contribution to the wider ethical debate as well as to the practical applications of theory.

The Professional Ethics book series seeks to examine ethical issues in the professions and related areas both critically and constructively. Individual volumes address issues relevant to all professional groups, such as the applicability of theoretical frameworks, as in this volume, or the nature of the profession. Other volumes examine issues relevant to particular professions, including those which have hitherto received little attention, such as health care management and general practice.

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