Introduction to Ethics
This chapter examines the ways in which ethical issues are part of the practice of medicine, and focuses on a number of ethical theories and concepts and the ways in which they might relate to medicine. It considers the doctor-patient relationship and the way in which medicine has given rise to particular ways of describing this relationship and its ethical implications. The purpose of ethics is to try and find principles for living good lives. Medical ethics particularly highlights the issue of universalisation and how far this can be said to apply when, even within one society, there are many social and cultural attitudes. The most well-known consequentialist view is that of utilitarianism. This theory, of whom Jeremy Bentham was one of the earliest exponents, states that ethical principles should produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, and 'happiness' is defined by means of pleasure. The principle of self-determination is frequently asserted in medical law and ethics.