Medicine (St Vincent's) - Theses

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    The doctor as moral agent, with reference to the distinction between killing and "letting die"
    COOPER, DENISE ANNE ( 2007-07)
    In the bioethics literature, arguments about the nature of the distinction between killing and “letting die” seem irresolvable. There is a disparity between the dominant (consequentialist) opinion on this issue and that of the medical profession. No previous studies have investigated how doctors who work with the dying understand the distinction in the medical context. The aim of my research was to explore the moral reasoning of these clinicians in relation to this question. A focused ethnographic study involved thirty Melbourne doctors (thirteen palliative care physicians, nine oncologists, six intensivists, and two advocates of physician-assisted suicide) of whom eighteen were male and twelve female, with an age range from 31 to 77 years. Half had a religious belief (Jewish or Christian) and half were atheist/agnostic. (For complete abstract open document)