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Int J Psychoanal. 1995 Oct;76 ( Pt 5):977-89.

Ethical and unethical conduct in psychoanalysis. Correlations between logic, ethics and science.


This paper, written by a logician and two psychoanalysts, deals with the existence of logical relationships between ethics and psychoanalysis, which can be expressed as propositions. With a view to focusing the discussion on this point, the authors have deliberately abstained from any polemics concerning the scientific status of psychoanalysis, and concentrate on a consideration of the ethical implications of the conduct of psychoanalysts in the exercise of their profession. In this approach, the theoretical statements and technical rules of psychoanalysis as manifested in its daily practice inevitably have connexions with metaethics and normative ethics. The authors discuss in turn the ethical classification of human conduct, the classes of ethical propositions, the problem of means, ends and values, and the concrete ethical questions raised by the practice of psychoanalysis. Their argument is based on consideration of the existence of empirical, pure ethical and mixed ethical statements, analogous to the familiar categories of empirical, theoretical and mixed statements, or rules of correspondence. Mixed ethical statements are deemed to serve as new rules of correspondence, whereby logical bridges could be constructed between the factual aspect of psychoanalysis and pure ethical statements. If this approach is valid, a sufficient foundation exists to express views on the ethical characteristics of psychoanalytic conduct.

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