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ss triple helix - Christmas 2008,  Foundations for medical ethics

Foundations for medical ethics

Sean Doherty
Grove Books 2007
£2.95; Pb 28pp
ISSN 1470-854X

Most Christian medical ethics books on the market are written by clinicians, aiming to provide biblical answers to tricky issues. Sean Doherty's thought provoking booklet starts from a different premise. Doherty is an Anglican curate and has led a medical ethics course for undergraduates, which formed the basis of the book. Rather than tackling particular issues, he aims to set out relevant theological issues and apply these to the medical world.

If five short chapters, he begins by setting out the fundamental assumptions that shape the background of contemporary medicine. Although the booklet is not extensively referenced, the first chapter addresses humanity's quest to overcome our limitations, as well as the rise of consumer-driven practice, where the role of the doctor is largely to fulfil the patients' desires. He goes on to describe the goodness of creation, and how suffering originated, before exploring how creation will be redeemed. The final chapter examines how we should think about health and healing today.

This pamphlet is unlikely to provide answers about specific ethical issues, but Doherty's approach is refreshing, and he raises many questions about the medical project which are worth reflection.

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