Goodness and the good doctor

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 28 September 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:696
  1. Piers Benn, lecturer in medical ethics and law.
  1. Imperial College

    Philosophers since Plato have wondered what goodness is, but what does the term mean when ascribed to doctors? Notice that if I call Dr Jones a good doctor I am not saying that Jones is a doctor who also happens to be good. I am saying that as a doctor Jones is good—good by the standards for judging doctors. In this respect, calling something good is like calling something big or small. A small boil is usually larger than a large pimple. The boil is small relative to the average size for boils.

    Thus the good doctor does not have all …

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