In Losing Our Dignity, Camosy’s central driving thesis is that the authority and power of modern medicine “have put an increasing number of human beings outside the circle of protection based on fundamental human equality” (p. 13). This loss of human equality and dignity is based primarily on cognitive disadvantages among neurologically diverse individuals, from those with Down syndrome to others with Alzheimer’s disease. In the eyes of an increasingly secular world, such people have less to offer, therefore less dignity.
Along with nurses and medical doctors, pharmacists have long been recognized, and honored, by the public as professionals exhibiting honesty and high ethical standards. Serving as the medication expert in the healthcare system, both other medical professionals and patients alike rely heavily on the pharmacist’s knowledge and skills related to an increasingly complex landscape of medications and the diseases (or situations) that such are intended to prevent or treat. And it is expected—assumed even—that the pharmacist will leverage such expertise in the best interest of the patient—as a fiduciary, if you will—exercising a competent, selfless, and wise approach to each patient’s care.
Where does religion fit into modern bioethical discourse? According to sociologist Max Weber, the human mind has a “metaphysical need” to seek order, coherence, and meaning, a need to understand ultimate questions about our nature, purpose, and destiny. Yet modern bioethics operates with no presumptive content of the good and eschews “thick” discourse, relying instead on the procedural grammar of the market, contracts, and limited democracy.
Joshua Mitchell is a specialist in political theory who has contributed one of the few scholarly works addressing the issue of “identity politics” in a liberal society. This phenomenon has exploded on the cultural and political scene in the last twenty years and has caused heated debate across the political spectrum. Moreover, it indirectly affects the theory and practice of medical ethics. Race and gender issues have converged through intersectionality, which has brought together advocates of racial theory, LGBTQ activists, and academics in mutually reinforcing, though sometimes tense, relationships.
Carl Trueman, a church historian by training and, in recent years, a cultural analyst, has given the evangelical world—and others willing to listen—a sophisticated historical and philosophical genealogy of the current cultural crisis in the West. It is a “how we arrived at our present situation” book, filled with evidence and intellectual connections over about 300 years. Trueman searches for the roots, not only of our sexual mores and practices, but of the broader ideas that form what many would label the reigning worldview.
Sometimes a book has pages filled with the reality of truth. The Way of Medicine: Ethics and the Healing Profession, by Farr Curlin and Christopher Tollefsen, is one such work. In a relatively short and readable volume, the authors explore and analyze the how’s and why’s of medical practice, from the ancient model of Hippocrates to the modern “service-provider model.” Using case examples, moral theory, foundational ethics, and experience, they charge after the conflicts between the modern model and the more ancient “way of medicine,” which they espouse as “a practice oriented toward the patient’s health as one basic human good” (p. 54). Their central questions are: “what is medicine?” and “what is medicine for?” They answer these by embracing clinical practice as a profession, not a job.