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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 4, 1998

Bioethics and Medical Ethics

Paul Hoyt-O’Connor
Pages 56-63

Virtue and the Practice of Medicine

Since Alasdair MacIntyre’s landmark book After Virtue, there has been renewed interest in the role of the virtues in the moral life and attention paid to reappropriating the Aristotelian notion of "practice." Recent reappropriations of the virtues and virtue theory in medical ethics have contributed to conceiving more adequately the nature of good medicine. I wish to explore some of these insights and the special relevance the notion of practice has in an account of good medicine. Yet, I also want to suggest that much remains to be done. This renewed attention to the virtues needs to be supplemented by a similar reappropriation and transposition of the notion of nature in order to navigate successfully the Dardanelles of an ahistorical essentialism and the Bosphorus of a historical relativism.

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