Values Imposition and Ethical Pluralism: An Argument Against Standardized Ethical Directives for Healthcare Ethics Consultants


Autumn Fiester


In the article “An Argument for Standardized Ethical Directives for Secular Healthcare Services,” Abram L. Brummett and Jamie C. Watson argue that, parallel to the directives of the Roman Catholic Church, secular healthcare ethics consultants (HECs) need substantive standardized ethical guidelines (what they call SEGs) that would constitute a best practice across all HECs in the U.S. Brummett and Watson believe that the absence of such directives constitutes an important deficit in clinical ethics consultation (CEC) that needs to be rectified in order for consultation to achieve the professionalism and universality necessary for legitimacy. This is a bold argument worthy of consideration, perhaps most because it challenges the field to engage in a self-assessment about its current and future directions against the backdrop of both the concerning data on national CEC and the current intense values polarization in the U.S. As part of assessment, I will argue in this essay that such a consensus document is not only impossible in our current national climate, but undesirable given the way that it would impose liberal clinical ethics values on an extremely values-pluralistic populace and exacerbate the deep divisions that many of us fear could be our national undoing.



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