Author: H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr.
Pages: 252 pages
Published: August 31st 1977
in a scientific way, and takes the patient and his family into his confidence. Thus he learns something from the sufferer, and at the same time instructs the invalid to the best of his power. He does not give his prescriptions until he has won the patient's support, and when he has done so, he steadilY aims at producing complete restoration to health by persuading the sufferer in to compliance (Laws 4. 720 b-e, ). This passage shows the perennial nature of the problems of treating the patient as a person. It shows as well the historical'depth of philosophical interest in medicine. The history of philosophy includes more reflections upon medical ethics than the casual reader might suspect. Many of these reflections are pertinent to contemporary issues such as abortion and population control. Plato, for example, recommends abortion in cases of incest (Republic 5. 461c); and Aristotle argues for letting seriously deformed children die, while forbidding infanticide as a means of popUlation control, suggesting instead the use of early abortions. 'As to the exposure in rearing of children, let there be a law that no deformed child shall live, but that on the ground of an excess in the number of children . . . let abortion be procured before sense and life have begun; what mayor may not be lawfully done in these cases depends on the question of life and sensation' (Politics VII, 16,335 b20-26, ).