Humanistic Perspectives in Medical Ethics

By Maurice B. Visscher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14
SOCIAL ETHICS FOR MEDICAL EDUCATORS

John G. Bruhn and Douglas C. Smith

Dobzhansky1 has commented, "By changing what he knows about the world, man changes the world he knows; and by changing the world in which he lives, man changes himself." Man has changed medicine; medicine has changed man; and together they have changed the world. These interlocking changes have not occurred in orderly transition. Often a medical breakthrough has resulted in a problem-laden gap. For example, man's longevity has been increased through the discovery of lifesaving techniques and greater knowledge about the etiology and treatment of disease; but increased longevity has deepened and complicated the interrelationships between the patterning of disease and man's way of life. Furthermore this or any new knowledge may prove to be more detrimental than beneficial unless medical educators, as well as practitioners and researchers are willing to face the evolving triad--knowledge, practice and social responsibility. As Dubos2 has observed, the diseases of greatest prevalence are the diseases of scarcity and the diseases of civilization.

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