The essay "Ethics of Living and Dying" talks about the iatrogenesis which is often caused by medical error or negligence, instrument design, social control (in cases of psychotherapy), medical anxiety, and negative interactions between medications. Evidence points to iatrogenesis as a significant attribute of between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths in the United States per year, according to some estimates.
Given the large-scale incidence of iatrogenesis and the threat to life it poses for so many people, there are clear ethical implications for understanding the phenomenon. In bioethics, there are a number of normative frameworks from which thinkers may approach complex moral questions. In the case of iatrogenesis, it is often assumed that like other issues in medical ethics, iatrogenesis is grounded in the duty (or implicit contract) that healthcare givers allegedly have toward the patients receiving their care. However, an emerging perspective on the issue is emerging from virtue ethicists, who point to various characteristics of healthcare givers as either helpful or harmful in the incidence of iatrogenesis. The normative approach one takes, in this case, reduces to a more fundamental debate about which moral theory is more applicable to general sorts of cases, although iatrogenesis is a special bioethical issue. The purpose of this paper is to examine the implications of shifting away from a duty perspective to a virtue perspective in bioethics by examining the issue of iatrogenesis in particular. ...Show more