On the Philosophical Foundations of Medical Ethics: Aristotle, Kant, JS Mill and Rawls

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Ethics, Medicine & Public Health
Ethics, Medicine & Public Health

This article aims to trace back some of the theoretical foundations of medical ethics that stem from the philosophies of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill and John Rawls. The four philosophers had in mind rational and autonomous human beings who are able to decide their destiny, who pave for themselves the path for their own happiness. It is argued that their philosophies have influenced the field of medical ethics as they crafted some very important principles of the field. I discuss the concept of autonomy according to Kant and JS Mill, Kant’s concepts of dignity, benevolence and beneficence, Mill’s Harm Principle (nonmaleficence), the concept of justice according to Aristotle, Mill and Rawls, and Aristotle’s concept of responsibility..

Cohen-Almagor R. On the Philosophical Foundations of Medical Ethics: Aristotle, Kant, JS Mill and Rawls. Ethics Med Pub Health. 2017;3(4):436-444.

Conscientious Commitment

Bernard M Dickens

The Lancet
The Lancet

Religion has no monopoly on conscience, however. History, both distant and recent, shows how health-care providers and others, driven by conscientious concerns, can defy laws and religious opposition to provide care to vulnerable, dependent populations. They might also defy the medical establishment. Pioneers of the birth control movement were not doctors, and were opposed by medical, state, and religious establishments. As long ago as 1797, Jeremy Bentham advocated means of birth control, and in the following century, John Stuart Mill was briefly imprisoned for distributing birth control handbills. Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant were similarly prosecuted, in 1877, for selling pamphlets about birth control.

Dickens BM. Conscientious Commitment. The Lancet. 2008;371(1240-1241.