Medical Ethics and the Law

Andreas-Holger Maehle

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199546497
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Medical Ethics and the Law


This article reflects on some historiographical focal points and trends in the recent scholarly literature on the history of medical ethics and bioethics. It discusses historical relationships between normative thought and legal regulations. This analysis focuses on three key issues: the nature and motivations of traditional medical professional ethics; the history of ethical abuses in clinical experimentation and their consequences for regulation; and the rise of bioethics. The history of clinical experimentation has brought the ethics of the doctor–patient relationship into sharp relief. The issues surrounding human organ donation and transplantation that have become central to modern bioethics are also discussed. The conclusion of this article points to future directions in the historiography of medical ethics.

Keywords: medical ethics; bioethics; clinical experimentation; normative thought; human organ donation

Article.  9025 words. 

Subjects: History ; Social and Cultural History

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