In the medical sector, setting high ethical standards is essential because it defines the level of treatment that the public receives (Campbell 2003, p. 292). Medical professionals must follow ethical principles outlined in their code of conduct. Since they deal with people's futures, the medical profession necessitates a high level of moral character. As a doctor, following ethics means that more lives are saved, and illnesses are prevented. Doctors, for example, are expected to follow a specific protocol while attending to their patients to foster a high degree of trust between them. Doctors, for example, are expected to follow a particular protocol while listening to their patients to promote a high degree of trust between them. Ethics also spells out how a medic reacts to an emergency, for instance, it explains whether it would be worth asking for a down payment when attending to an accident victim who is in a coma (Gardiner 2003, p.297). While conducting euthanasia, doctors must be able to evaluate whether it is in line with their morality and what activities can be done to prevent it. This research paper will examine the question of morality and moral judgment in the medical profession. Further, the essay will examine how different philosophical schools of ethics treat ethical issues.
MORALITY AND MORAL JUDGMENT
Morality is a branch of ethics that evaluates whether the activity of an individual is right, wrong or out rightly bizarre (McDonald, 2010, p. 446). In this case, the medical professionals are expected to have a high sense of moral judgment in their daily activities to help save lives and thus reduce the mortality rates (Thomasma, 2009, p23). A gynecologist for instance is not allowed to engage in sexual relations with his students because this may cloud his thinking and alter the quality of treatment offered within the facility. It is thus important that the medics do not use their emotions while making decisions and instead aspire to do what upholds their integrity and is hence right. Morally also shields an individual from self-judgment especially after failing to do what is right at the required time.
MORAL ABSOLUTISM AND RELATIVISM
Moral absolutism is the field of philosophy that establishes human behavior as right or wrong (Gillon, 2003, p. 307). There is therefore no grey area in moral absolutism and the medical practitioners are required to adhere to the right behaviors. For instance, termination of life is considered morally wrong (Annadurai, Danasekaran and Mani 2014, p. 477). The medical doctors should aspire to save lives and not assists in the ending of it. Where the patient is suffering, it is imperative that the medics look for options that would reduce or end the pain without killing the individual. On the other hand, moral relativism recognizes that each society and individual have unique definition of what is right or wrong (McDonald, 2010, p. 456). There is hence no universal way of establishing a good or a bad attribute or behavior. While some communities would abhor euthanasia, others would embrace it because it helps to end excessive suffering in patients and help families to save on medical costs (Gardiner 2003, p.299). According to this approach, patients have a right to request for the termination of their life if they are undergoing immense suffering (McDonald, 2010, p. 449). This approach enables medics to determine the course of actions while treating patients and when working in different areas.
This ethical approach aims at following behavior that is likely to only result to a positive outcome (Campbell 2003, p. 294). For instance a medical doctor should often evaluate if his activities will result in the good of the public or it will make things worse. A medical doctor may be faced with a situation where he has the option of saving a woman and her unborn child through a caesarian section or adhering to the patient’s demands of having a normal birth. In this case, the woman may be incapable of delivering normally and she may thus risk their lives. The optimal way in this case would be to have an emergency caesarian section this saving the life of a mother and the child (Gardiner 2003, p.300). The consequential ethics also requires one to strive to make the world a better place to live in. This approach is useful because it ensures that the professionals in the medical world are mindful of their behavior and hence engaged in a rational behavior.
Using the deontological approach, the medics only engage in activities that are in line with their duties (Gillon, 2003, p. 310). The doctors for instance have a specified code of conduct that they are to adhere to at all times. In this case, the doctor may not consider the consequences of his actions but what the law says. For instance, when doctors treat patients that have life threatening diseases such as cancer, it is imperative that he explains every detail to the patient this being truthful. While the patient may end up being devastated with the news, the doctor in this case may have played his part instead of lying and making the patient feel better. Similarly, a doctor is supposed to give full details after losing a patient to the relatives. This approach is useful because it ensures that the doctors are in their right behavior and they do not engage in activities that would harm the patient. For instance, when a doctor explains to a patent the need to have a surgical operation even if it could potential risk their life, this is in essence a deontological approach. This approach also spells out the reactions of a doctor when faced with an emergency situation at the hospital.
Virtue ethics evaluates a person’s behavior based on their moral judgment and character (Gillon, 2003, p. 308). For instance a person following virtues would engage in activities that would yield most good and utility to the people thus following the utilitarian approach (Mack 2004, p. 63). A medical doctor would for example treat his patients even if they have not placed a down payment because that would in the end save their lives and it would also take away the guilt of failing to have helped someone who is in need. In following virtue ethics, a medic may engage in an activity that reflects on his personal attributes and not necessarily the set norms.
The medical fraternity indeed ought to have a high level of moral standard and ethics to effectively carry out their duties. Healthcare is an important component of a society’s welfare and it us hence imperative that all stakeholders act in due diligence. Consequential approach establishes the actions of an individual based on their results and effects on the society. Deontological follows the laid out duties without considering the actions. Virtue ethics on the other hand follows the personal convictions of individuals while moral absolutism or relativism determines the extent to which a society accepts a certain behavior. The four philosophical approaches thus set the guideline to be followed by the health care professionals to promote healthy and sustainable living. It is thus important that the medics combine the four ethical principles so that they can improve the wellbeing of people.
Annadurai, K., Danasekaran, R. and Mani, G., 2014. 'Euthanasia: Right to die with dignity'. Journal of family medicine and primary care, 3(4), p.477.
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Gardiner, P., 2003. A virtue ethics approach to moral dilemmas in medicine. Journal of Medical Ethics, 29(5), pp.297-302.
Gillon, R., 2003. Ethics needs principles—four can encompass the rest—and respect for autonomy should be “first among equals”. Journal of medical ethics, 29(5), pp.307-312.
Mack, P., 2004. Utilitarian ethics in healthcare. International Journal of The Computer, the Internet and Management, 12(3), pp.63-72.
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Thomasma, D.C., 2009. Theories of medical ethics: the philosophical structure. Military Medical Ethics, 1, pp.23-60.
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