Doing Good and Avoiding Evil
V. By Way of Conclusion: The Need for Clarity
No one form of reasoning is inherently superior to the other. We may use them all, and usually, in the course of a discussion involving ethics, we do. But it is important to note the differences among them, for if we do not, we condemn ourselves to talk past each other and frustrate our dialogue. For example, at a dinner party some years ago, I came across a heated debate on the problem of educating inner-city black teenagers. One side of the debate was arguing that the blacks had been treated so badly in the past, and had been denied such basic amenities and encouragements, that it was unjust to expect them to measure up to middle-class educational expectations. The other side, made up of schoolteachers, was arguing that education provided the only decent prospects for the future, and indeed, the only way out of the ghetto, for these youngsters, and unless they got their act together and got motivated somehow to finish school, the next generation would be just as disadvantaged and ill-treated as the present one.
Were these two groups really arguing against each other? No. Each could easily have conceded the other's point (and sometimes did) while maintaining its own. Rather, they were arguing past each other, one arguing consequentially (toward the future, bleak or somewhat brighter, depending on the means, especially educational means, adopted now), and the other deontologically (from justice). Both, by the way, were making excellent points. You might want to warm up your minds at this point by joining that debate; but please, do a better job than they did at keeping straight what kind of argument you are using.
Major Sources for ethics: read when you can. They should be available in any library, some in several editions.
1. Classic Texts
2. Health Care Ethics: With special reference to nursing
2. Health Care Ethics: General Sources
There are perhaps a dozen journals in the general field of health care ethics. The only ones that you would need to know about for practical use are:
Materials prepared by Lisa H. Newton, Ph.D. 1998
Copyright © 2002, Hale Chair. All rights reserved.
Created by Elsi Caldeira
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