Making Moral Decisions in Medicine

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July 5, 2007

Our guest blogger this week is Matt Tabbut, a second-year med student (and Cedarville alumnus) at Chicago’s Rosalind Franklin University.

At this stage of my medical education, I have begun to look at some practical ethics case studies. There are a few beacons, or waypoints, that I use to help guide me in making decisions. Consider the following.

1. Faith – As a Christian, my faith plays a vital role in moral living. This worldview based on Biblical principles and mandates serves as an anchor or foundation upon which to make ethical determinations. At the heart of Scripture is the concept of loving God and loving others. Thus, the Bible establishes immutable, transcendent, and absolute principles that serve as the ultimate authority in my moral and ethical dealings.

2. Reason – Reason is at the heart of all philosophical thought. However, reason alone (i.e. not tempered by a foundation based on principles – see point 1) is a slippery slope leading to consequences that we may not perceive or be willing to accept. But in my moral deliberations, I should not only be able to provide supporting arguments from faith, but should also be able to communicate arguments from reason that can be accepted more universally.

3. Precedent – A good argument can often be made from analogy, and history can help to clarify ethical dilemmas. Finding correlations with other related situations may shed light on the current problem.

4. Instinct – At least in the negative sense, this is sometimes called the “yuk factor,” – another way of describing our gut reaction. Though decisions cannot be made solely on feeling, our gut reaction can give insight as we look other well-founded arguments.

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