Sunday, February 23, 2014

Should teachers of medical ethics and health professionals remain value neutral in order to respect the autonomy of students and patients?


Should teachers of medical ethics and health professionals remain value neutral in order to respect the autonomy of students and patients?
Med Law. 2013 Sep;32(3):305-18
Authors: Bøgeskov BO

This article describes the pedagogical and ethical problems that ensue when ethical neutrality is mandated as the sole acceptable stance for teachers of ethics and health professionals (especially in public institutions). This paper argues that such a mandate can (1) violate public employees' own ethical integrity by forcing them to adopt the current legal order as their own ethical code; (2) erode trust, by requiring that the professional or teacher betray the honesty that patients and students commonly expect; and, finally, (3) undermine--by affirming that all opinions are equally acceptable--he pedagogical aim of generating critical thinking. Nevertheless, the article warns teachers and professionals against defending their own convictions by appealing to authority or the power of public office. The correct way to avoid ethical neutrality, this article asserts, is by distinguishing "opinion" from "argument": by not merely articulating, but providing convincing arguments for, one's own professional ethical opinions.

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