Toward a methodology for moral decision making in medicine

Thomasine Kushner, Raymond A. Belliotti, Donald Buckner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The failure of medical codes to provide adequate guidance for physicians' moral dilemmas points to the fact that some rules of analysis, informed by moral theory, are needed to assist in resolving perplexing ethical problems occurring with increasing frequency as medical technology advances. Initially, deontological and teleological theories appear more helpful, but critcisms can be lodged against both, and neither proves to be sufficient in itself. This paper suggests that to elude the limitations of previous approaches, a method of moral decision making must be developed incorporating both coherence methodology and some independently supported theoretical foundations. Wide Reflective Equilibrium is offered, and its process described along with a theory of the person which is used to animate the process. Steps are outlined to be used in the process, leading to the application of the method to an actual case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-293
Number of pages13
JournalTheoretical Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1991


  • deontology
  • medical ethics
  • meta-ethics
  • persons
  • teleology
  • Wide Reflective Equilibrium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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