Clinical ethics: theory or practice?

J V Welie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article starts with a brief historical account of the ongoing debate about the status of clinical ethics: theory of practice. The author goes on to argue that clinical ethics is best understood as a practice. However, its practicality should not be measured by the extent to which clinical-ethical consultants manage to mediate or negotiate resolutions to ethical conflicts. Rather, clinical ethics is practical because it is characterized by a profound concern for the well-being of individual patients as well as the moral parameters of swift and urgent medical action in the face of limited supportive information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-312
Number of pages18
JournalTheoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural Diversity
  • Decision Making
  • Ethical Analysis
  • Ethicists
  • Ethics Consultation
  • Ethics, Clinical
  • Ethics, Medical/history
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Morals
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Professional Practice
  • Professional Role

Cite this