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J Eval Clin Pract. 2015 Jun;21(3):427-32. doi: 10.1111/jep.12329. Epub 2015 Feb 4.

Foucault at the bedside: a critical analysis of empowering a healthy lifestyle.

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Department of Primary Care and Family Medicine, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium.


Since quite a few years, philosophy is heading towards the bedside of the patient: the practice of philosophy has stepped out of its ivory tower, it seems, to deal with empirical or practical questions. Apart from the advantages, we should keep in mind the importance of a critical analysis of medical or clinical practice as such. If ethics partakes the clinical stage, it runs the risk only to discuss the how question and to forget the more fundamental what or why questions: what are we doing exactly and why is it good for? Starting from the principle of the empowerment of the patient, we will demonstrate how the discourse on empowerment in health care seems to forget a profound reflection upon this principle as such. By rehearsing some basics from the governmentality theory of Michel Foucault and the actualization of it by Nicolas Rose, we will argue how philosophical investigation in medical-ethical evolutions such as empowerment of the patient is still needed to understand what is really going on in today's clinical practice.


evaluation; patient-centred care; public health

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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