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The Use of Theological Classics in Teaching Medical Ethics

Fred Rosner, MD
JAMA. 1987;258(2):204. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400020046022.
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To the Editor.—  Radwany and Adelson1 consider ethics to be "the division of philosophy that deals with questions of right and wrong." Ethics probably antedates philosophy, and codes of moral conduct such as the Code of Hammurabi and the Holy Bible are many centuries old. In addition to the use of literary classics in teaching medical ethics to physicians, I suggest the use of theological classics such as the Bible, the Talmud, and the codes of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah) and Joseph Karo (Shulchan Arukh) in the teaching of medical ethics. Such codes are, in nature and scope, roughly comparable to the corpus of canon law.It is important to recognize the interface of medical ethics and religion. Religion does not intrude into the physician's medical prerogatives, provided the considerations in question are purely medical. However, modern medicine has moved into new areas in which great moral issues are involved.


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