This chapter examines some of the key ethical issues raised by modern biomedicine, with a focus on activities which tested and pushed the boundaries of what we consider acceptable for doctors to do to us. In doing so, it highlights deeply problematic interactions between modern medicine, the human body and western societies. It was English physician Thomas Percival (1740–1804) who, in 1803, first introduced the term medical ethics after being asked by Manchester Infirmarys medical staff to compile a list of hospital regulations. For the next century, Percivals book was widely used internationally as a code of ethics, part of the broader process of physicians and surgeons demarcating themselves from irregular healers as orthodox medicine first professionalised. Remarkably, Percivals work formed the basis of the American Medical Associations Code of Ethics, adopted in 1847. However, Percivals ethical codes were very much a reflection of nineteenth-century professional politics. Their introduction was, at least in part, an effort by the emerging breed of middle-class doctors to present themselves as gentlemen with enshrined duties and responsibilities, individuals who could be entrusted to act decorously and professionally towards patients and other medical practitioners unlike their unscrupulous quack counterparts.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- The Limits of Medicine: Ethics and Technologies
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number