Morals and Medicine: The Moral Problems of the Patient's Right to Know the Truth, Contraception, Artificial Insemination, Sterilization, Euthanasia

Morals and Medicine: The Moral Problems of the Patient's Right to Know the Truth, Contraception, Artificial Insemination, Sterilization, Euthanasia

JOSEPH F. FLETCHER
WITH A FOREWORD BY KARL MENNINGER
Copyright Date: 1979
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x17s9
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Morals and Medicine: The Moral Problems of the Patient's Right to Know the Truth, Contraception, Artificial Insemination, Sterilization, Euthanasia
    Book Description:

    InMorals and Medicinea leading Protestant theologian comes to grips with the problems of conscience raised by new advances in medical science and technology. They arise as issues at the start or making of a life, in preserving its health, and in facing its death. They are the problems of Everyman: some are new problems of conscience, such as artificial insemination; some are old problems in new dimensions, such as euthanasia.

    Modern medicine provides such a high degree of control over health and vital processes that men must inevitably shoulder the burden of intelligent decision, and shoulder it as rationally as possible. Thus far, only Roman Catholic moralists have worked out a coherent ethics of medical care.Morals and Medicineis a new and independent analysis of the morals of life and death, striking out along the line of the values of personality rather than of mere physiological life itself. It offers a modern and at the same time Christian concept of right and wrong for all who are involved: the patient, the doctor and nurse, the pastor, and the family and friends.

    Originally published in 1979.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6837-7
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. ix-xii)
    KARL A. MENNINGER

    Suppose the worst man in the world applied to the best surgeon in the world for relief from a condition that would prove fatal unless relieved by surgery. Should the surgeon operate? Suppose a man, while committing a murder, breaks a leg, but escapes immediate capture and applies to a doctor for relief? Should the doctor treat him? (Dr. Mudd, member of a distinguished American family, was given a long prison term for having done just this.) If an isolated doctor has ten patients, with enough serum to save five lives, which five shall he save? Or shall he run...

  4. PREFACE TO THE PRINCETON PAPERBACK EDITION
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Joseph Fletcher
  5. PREFACE (1954)
    (pp. xvii-2)
    J.F.F.
  6. CHAPTER ONE HUMAN RIGHTS IN LIFE, HEALTH, AND DEATH
    (pp. 3-33)

    Medicine and religion have always been closely associated, until comparatively recent times. Long after the disappearance of the primitive medicine man or priestly witch doctor the alliance still continued as a self-conscious and openly embraced affair. It was a long journey from the savage belief that the diseases afflicting men had a divine origin and served as punishment, hex, or magic (the art of healing therefore being a priestly task) to the blunt opinion of Martin Luther that “no malady comes from God.”¹ Their marriage in the past ceased to be completely harmonious once medical studies and practice began to...

  7. CHAPTER TWO MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS: OUR RIGHT TO KNOW THE TRUTH
    (pp. 34-64)

    A gentleman,” said Dr. John M. Birnie in theNew England Journal of Medicine, “is one who has more regard for the rights of others than for his own feelings, and for the feelings of others than for his own rights.”¹ Disraeli, bemused by the troublesome problem of truth-telling, put it this way: “A gentleman is one who knows when to tell the truth, and when not to.” His diplomatic impulses served him better than the cynic’s who observed that “a gentleman is one who never unintentionally hurts the feelings of others.” But Dr. Birnie meant, presumably, that the gentle...

  8. CHAPTER THREE CONTRACEPTION: OUR RIGHT TO CONTROL PARENTHOOD
    (pp. 65-99)

    In trying to arrive at a moral judgment or ethical evaluation, we can isolate four factors to be taken into account in every human act, in every problem of human conduct. These are, first, the motive; second, the intention; third, the means or method; and, fourth, the result or consequences. To illustrate from a field other than medicine, we might look at a politician. His motive could be either personal power or public service, or a mixture. His intention or object—the end sought—would be a public office; this in itself is entirely worthy. The means or methods employed...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION: OUR RIGHT TO OVERCOME CHILDLESSNESS
    (pp. 100-140)

    We have been maintaining persistently, as the pivot principle of ethics, that man’s moral stature, his quality as a moral being, depends first upon his possession of freedom of choice and, second, upon his knowledge of the courses of action open to his choice. In a very real sense it is possible to regard freedom and knowledge as different sides of one prerequisite to ethical living, namely control of self and of circumstances. Hence it is that when we explore the field of morals and medical care we find that the science and technology, as well as the art, of...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE STERILIZATION: OUR RIGHT TO FORECLOSE PARENTHOOD
    (pp. 141-171)

    Our courts of law in this enlightened country will not knowingly grant a decree for an insane, feeble-minded, or otherwise unfit person to adopt a child. Their objection in such cases would rest upon moral grounds: a child has a right to a minimum standard of care and security, and parents, whether natural or adoptive, are obliged in conscience to possess the competence necessary to render to their children their dues. On this view of the obligations of parenthood, we cannot avoid asking the question: if the law will not permit unfit persons to adopt a child, why should it...

  11. CHAPTER SIX EUTHANASIA: OUR RIGHT TO DIE
    (pp. 172-210)

    Euthanasia, the deliberate easing into death of a patient suffering from a painful and fatal disease, has long been a troubling problem of conscience in medical care. For us in the Western world the problem arises,pro forma, out of a logical contradiction at the heart of the Hippocratic Oath. Our physicians all subscribe to that oath as the standard of their professional ethics. The contradiction is there because the oath promises two things: first, to relieve suffering, and second, to prolong and protect life. When the patient is in the grip of an agonizing and fatal disease, these two...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN THE ETHICS OF PERSONALITY: MORALITY, NATURE, AND HUMAN NATURE
    (pp. 211-226)

    Why not call to orderwhat is over against us, and send it packing into the realm of objects? … And in all the seriousness of truth, hear this: withoutItman cannot live. But he who lives with It alone is not a man.”¹ Physical nature—the body and its members, our organs and their functions—all of thesethingsare a part of “what is over against us,” and if we live by the rules and conditions set in physiology or any other it we are not men, we are notthou. When we discussed the problem of...

  13. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 229-232)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 233-243)