Moral agency in pain medicine: philosophy, practice and virtue

Journal Article

By: J Giordano
Publication Name: Pain Physician
Year: 2006

Although established as a field of specialization, pain medicine remains somewhat fractionated. Such lack of cohesion creates dissonance on multiple levels, and thus, impedes the provision of effective pain care. This paper asserts that there is a core philosophy of medicine that reflects the intellectual and moral quality of the healing relationship. I argue that pain medicine, in all its constituent disciplines, is bound to this philosophy. The intricate relationship between pain, the pain patient, and the pain physician creates pragmatic and moral dilemmas that may not be well served by the use of prima facie principles. It is argued that an agent-based, virtue ethics best enable the clinician to both apprehend the complexity of this relationship and appreciate other ethical approaches in the discourse arising from issues of care.

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