An Essay in Popular Philosophy
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An intelligent and thorough philosophical analysis of the medical care morass, this does no less than clear away superficial and superfluous arguments, leaving a few essential issues and a direction for reform. Tauber, a philosopher as well as professor of medicine (Boston Univ.) briefly catalogues the well-known ills of our health care system, and provides a cohesive overview of how we arrived at this point, interwoven with experiences from his own medical practice and family life. Three basic questions emerge: how do we regard ourselves when ill, what do we expect from the physician, and as a result, how and what professional ideal do we wish to instill in health care providers to make medical practice more humane and compassionate? In a society that so prizes individual autonomy, Tauber makes it clear that we have to accept that being ill means immediately losing such self-sufficiency and self-direction, given today’s ’setting of highly technical and obscure clinical science.” If we acknowledge that the doctor-patient relationship is a fundamentally unequal one (and one with no parallel in the business world), then we can turn our attention to how best to prepare practitioners who adhere to a moral obligation to restore health (and thus autonomy). Not only should we not look to the business world for help in structuring medical care, but Tauber also takes issue with using science as the single basis for clinical care. Distinguish between scientific and caring missions, he suggests, since laboratory-based medicine addresses only what Tauber calls the “materialistic” aspects of disease (those which can be physically or chemically measured). Tauber succeeds in his effort to step back, begin again at the philosophical beginning, and cast a new light on the tangle of medical care. Involved professionals and the general readership alike will benefit.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-262-20114-3
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: MIT
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1998