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On the philosophy of diagnosis: is doing more good than harm better than “primum non nocere”?
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  • Published on:
    The good and the harm.

    The principle of 'primum non nocere' stems from the ancient world of Plato. In the 'real' world it is immpossible to act without doing harm. An examination or treatment takes always some time and money from the patient. Taking time and money is the minimum harm that is done. In many cases ther is additional harm.

    Therefore the principle 'doing more good than harm' seems at first sight a better and more realistic...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    On the philosophy of diagnosis: Authors' response
    • Richard Body, Clinical Lecturer
    • Other Contributors:
      • Bernard Foex
    Dear Editor,

    We welcome the thoughtful responses of Dr. Challen and Dr. Cattermole to our paper entitled: On the philosophy of diagnosis: is doing more good than harm better than primum non nocere? Dr. Challen makes two principle criticisms of our review to which we would like to respond.

    1. The existence of reality

    Dr. Challen correctly states that outside the medico-scientific realm, th...
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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    When the Good of the One outweighs the Good of the Many

    I would like to thank Body and Foex for their thought-provoking article, and also Cattermole and Challen for their replies. Too often in the culture of emergency medicine, the philosophical underpinnings of thought and action are neglected. When is there time to reflect?

    One highlight of their discussion of utilitarianism is the inclusion of emotional factors into the weighing of what actions can be counted as...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    Primum, non nocere.

    Dear Editor,

    I was disturbed to read the article by Body and Foex [1] advocating the embrace of Utilitarian values in medicine. I hope it was merely a misuse of words. All penguins are birds, but not all birds are penguins. Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism, but not all ethical thinking that considers the consequences of one’s actions is Utilitarian. The authors of the article correctly make a clear c...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    It’s good, but is it utilitarian? A response to Body and Foëx

    Body and Foëx are to be congratulated on their thoughtful analysis of the philosophy of diagnosis in emergency medicine(1). They raise some issues which would bear further examination.

    The philosophy of truth

    As Body and Foëx point out, our continued use of “gnosis” in diagnosis implies an ongoing assumption of an inherent knowledge and a positivist paradigm briefly expressed as “reality exists”. Thei...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.