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The Ends of Human Life: Medical Ethics in a Liberal Polity

[+] Article and Author Information

Emanuel Ezekiel J.. . 307 pages. Cambridge, Massachusetts: : Harvard University Press; ; 1991.. $34.95.


Ann Intern Med. 1992;117(4):350. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-117-4-350_1
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Medical ethics is neither medicine nor ethics: It is political philosophy. That is the core of a novel thesis put forth by Dr. Emanuel, an oncologist and ethicist at Harvard Medical School. Specifically, he says that many modern ethical debatesabortion, euthanasia, and rationing—can never be resolved in the "political liberalism" that dominates the pluralistic, modern United States. His assessment makes The Ends of Human Life worth the attention of ethicists and policymakers.

Emanuel parts with ethicists who say that physicians can address all dilemmas by relying on either professional norms, such as the Hippocratic oath, or ethical principles, such as

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