Synopses & Reviews
This arrestingly novel work develops a normative synthesis of medical humanities, virtue ethics, medical ethics, health law and human rights. It presents an ambitious, complex and coherent argument for the reconceptualisation of the doctor-patient relationship and its regulation utilising approaches often thought of as being separate, if not opposed (virtue-based ethics and universal human rights). The case is argued gracefully, with moderation, but also with respect for opposing positions. The book's analysis of the foundational professional virtue of therapeutic loyalty is an original departure from the traditional discourse of patient autonomy, and the ethical and legal duties of the medical practitioner. The central argument is not merely presented, as bookends, in the introduction and conclusion. It is cogently represented in each chapter and section and measured against the material considered. A remarkable feature is the use of aptly selected canonical literature to inform the argument. These references run from Hesse's The Glass Bead Game in the abstract, to Joyce's Ulysses in the conclusion. They include excerpts from and discussion about Bergman, Borges, Boswell, Tolstoy, de Beauvoir, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Samuel Johnson, Aristotle, Orwell, Osler, Chaucer, Schweitzer, Shakespeare, Thorwalds, Kafka and William Carlos Williams. Such references are used not merely as an artistic and decorative leitmotif, but become a critical, narrative element and another complex and rich layer to this work. The breadth and quality of the references are testimony to the author's clear understanding of the modern law and literature movement. This work provides the basis of a medicalschool course. As many medical educators as possible should also be encouraged to read this work for the insights it will give them into using their own personal life narratives and those of their patients to inform their decision-making process. This thesis will also be of value to the judiciary, whose members are often called upon to make normatively difficult judgments about medical care and medical rules. The human rights material leads to a hopeful view of an international movement toward a universal synthesis between medical ethics and human rights in all doctor-patient relationships.