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Abstract

A central focus of medical ethics is directed toward an effort to not only decide, but to make explicit what those duties are or should be for all physicians. The particulars will, of course, fluctuate according to different social structures, differing views of medicine, health, and cure, as well as different capabilities. In a word, medical ethics is situational. One view postulates that medical ethics is essentially ordinary ethics--but applied to medicine. Another view recognizes two elements: dilemma ethics and virtue ethics. Dilemma ethics concerns itself with the moral rightness or wrongness of human actions. Virtue ethics refers to the essential moral formation of the medical practitioner. One must be cautious not to collapse ethics solely into dilemma ethics, for when this occurs, a strange phenomenon exists: a split between the role of ethics and the person normally seen.