Virtue Ethics vs. Ethics of Care and Other Major Ethical Theories

334 words | 2 page(s)

Virtue Ethics and Ethics of Care suggest focusing on the role that healthcare providers have regarding moral character when providing for patients. In this philosophy, a healthcare provider must consider his or her duty and ability to bring about positive consequences when considering the role of a virtuous individual. Trains of a virtuous person typically derive from internal tendencies. This is opposed to deontological idealisms or other theories, such as consequentialism or utilitarian theories, which focus more on duty and obligation.

Utilitarian and deontological duties specifically focus on the obligations and duties the healthcare provider has, to promote the health of the patient they care for, and their obligation to do no wrong. However, virtue and ethics of care, tend to focus more on one’s moral character, and the role a healthcare provider may have in observing and caring for the moral care of the individuals under their care. It is an unspoken agreement one considers when considering virtue and ethical care.

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This ideal is exemplified by Kleinman (2009), who notes that a well-qualified physician can be both competent from a utilitarian perspective, but also have high moral character. In observing one’s moral character, Kleinman (2009) notes, it is necessary for the healthcare provider to observe the caregiving role, and emphasize this role in the delivery of healthcare, so that one’s spiritual needs are met. The tendency to ignore the spiritual needs of patients is all too common in the utilitarian or deontological philosophy of healthcare delivery. Tauber (2003) suggests that, in contemporary medicine, the relationship of beneficence is rarely the dominant force behind medical philosophy.

Rather, more popularly medicine is considered less a moral cause and more a directive that should be uncontroversial. The problem with this, however is that uncontroversial often erodes trust between the healthcare provider and the patient (Tauber, 2003).

  • Kleinman, A. (2008 Jan). The Art of Medicine: Catastrophe and Caregiving: The Failure of
    Medicine as an Art. The Lancet. 371.
  • Tauber, A. (2003 August). Sick Autonomy. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. Vol 46(4).

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