The Ethics of Palliative Care: European Perspectives

The Ethics of Palliative Care: European Perspectives

The Ethics of Palliative Care: European Perspectives

The Ethics of Palliative Care: European Perspectives

Synopsis

As palliative care develops across many of the countries of Europe, we find that it continues to raise important ethical challenges. Palliative care practice requires ethical sensitivity and understanding. At the same time the very existence of palliative care calls for ethical explanation. Ethics and palliative care meet over some vital issues: 'the good death', sedation at the end of life, requests for euthanasia, futile treatment, and the role of research. Yet palliative care appears uncertain about its goals and there is evidence that its ethical underpinnings are changing. Likewise, the moral problems of palliative care are only partly served by the four 'principles' of modern bioethics. This innovative book, with contributions by clinicians, ethicists, philosophers and social scientists, provides the first ever picture of palliative care ethics in the European context. It will be of interest to those involved in the delivery and management of palliative care services, as well as to students and researchers.

Excerpt

This new addition to the Facing Death series represents a major contribution to ethics and palliative care. It is the product of a three-year collaboration between scholars and clinicians working in seven European countries under the leadership of Professor Henk ten Have as part of the well known Pallium project. This work not only brings together perspectives from northern and southern Europe, but also combines the skills of philosophers, ethicists, doctors, nurses, theologians, historians and social scientists. the outcome of the project is quite the most detailed and challenging examination yet produced of the ethical dimensions of palliative care in the European context, making this book a work of major importance.

The Ethics of Palliative Care differs from other writings on this subject in several crucial respects. It is built on two interrelated views of its subject matter. One of these sees ethics in the service of palliative care, as an applied discipline which can be set to work in delivering 'answers' to crucial dilemmas that occur in clinical work and in the organization of services. the other sees palliative care as a field of activity which in its own right requires ethical reflection and analysis. We thereby have the distinction between ethics in and of palliative care, and the creative tension which this generates is present throughout the book.

Also important is the priority which the contributors give to an understanding of the historical development of palliative care and the varied organizational settings in which it is delivered. We are therefore offered a detailed account of key intellectual influences on palliative care, especially those deriving from innovations in twentieth century clinical medicine, theology and philosophy. We also see how these took hold and were shaped in different European contexts – where values apparently held in common were transformed and modified in local settings. As a result, service inno-

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