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A Philosophical Disease: Bioethics, Culture and Identity

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7249.1611 (Published 10 June 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1611
  1. John Harris, Sir David Alliance professor of bioethics
  1. University of Manchester

    Carl Elliott

    Routledge, £12.99, pp 256

    ISBN 0 415 91940 1

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    Bioethics needs philosophers with medical experience, and even more it needs philosophers who can write well and interestingly about bioethics without oversimplifying the issues. Elliott scores on both counts: he deploys considerable philosophical erudition and an ability to combine literary and philosophical sources to help us understand the dilemmas of modern medicine. In doing so, he certainly celebrates complexity. He fails, however, to be persuasive on either of his other main theses—that we have much to learn from Wittgenstein about bioethics and that general suspicion of theoretical approaches to bioethics is warranted. …

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