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Camb Q Healthc Ethics. 2014 Oct;23(4):452-60. doi: 10.1017/S0963180114000127. Epub 2014 Jul 17.

Why physicians should not be involved in hostile interrogations.


The purpose of this article is to provide a moral foundation for Heilig's argument (published in the same issue) that physician participation in torture is a violation of medical ethics. The argument needs a moral foundation because it is unconventional by the standards of academic biomedical ethics. There is little about the "principles of bioethics", the nature of medicine, the physician-patient relationship, the physician's "social role," or the like. Instead, Heilig rests his argument primarily on the AMA's Code of Ethics (and international equivalents)-what most bioethicists tend to treat as mere custom, etiquette, law, or statements of opinion (when they do not ignore it altogether). This article explains why the AMA Code of Ethics can set the standard for ethical conduct for physicians-given a certain understanding of "ethics" and "profession" largely absent from biomedical ethics but common in professional ethics generally. The article also responds to six likely objections.

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