Physician Self-interest and Medical Ethics-Reply

Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD
JAMA. 1993;270(5):578. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510050043019.
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In Reply.  —Dr Silver raises two points in his response to my article: one is the definition of medical ethics; the other is the question of physician self-interest.With respect to a definition of medical ethics, there is reason for confusion. The term is variously used by medical ethicists. Since I used the term in the title of my paper, I should at least clarify what I meant.Ethics is defined as the science of human conduct. Specifically, today, it is a branch of philosophy consisting in a formal, systematic, critical examination of human conduct from the point of view of its rightness or wrongness, good or harm. Ethics seeks to discern whether there are universalizable principles by which human conduct may be judged. It seeks to clarify the meaning of ethical terms and the logic of ethical discourse and to lay bare the prelogical presuppositions on which ethical opinion


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