Professional Ethics, Personal Conscience, and Public Expectations


Claudia E. Haupt


      Examining to what extent physicians are, or ought to be, defined by the profession when giving advice to patients, this commentary seeks to offer a better understanding of the potential conflicts that the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) “Opinion 1.1.7, Physician Exercise of Conscience,” addresses. This commentary conceptualizes the professions as knowledge communities, and situates the physician-patient relationship within this larger conceptual framework. So doing, it sheds light on how and when specialized knowledge is operationalized in professional advice-giving. Physicians communicate the knowledge community’s insights to the patient. Thus, departures from professional knowledge as a matter of the professional’s personal conscience are appropriately circumscribed by the knowledge community.




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