Normative Role for Medical Humanities
Normative Role for Medical Humanities, The Lancet, Vol. 362, November 2003
1 Pages Posted: 19 May 2009
Date Written: November 29, 2003
Medical humanities remains to be thoroughly evaluated as a normative tool, a mechanism of critical reflection upon those fundamental human virtues and principles of conduct underpinning regulatory systems. So conceived, medical humanities may represent a tangible manifestation of what John Rawls in his Theory of Justice terms “reflective equilibrium.” Ronald Dworkin calls a similar jurisprudential approach “law as interpretation,” as it involves the judiciary attempting to discern and render coherent the mass of normative principles upon which their community has reached apparent consensus. The criticisms by legal postivists of such normative techniques appear to have dimmed somewhat with the passage of legislation such as the Human Rights Act 1998 (UK) and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (NZ) which encourage the judiciary and legislatures to engage in international normative consensus on a grand scale. The project to rigorously expose the theoretical foundations of medical humanities to jurisprudential, philosophic and regulation-theory analysis could see it emerge as an important strategy for awakening and supporting that sense of conscience which the foundational ethical codes and the central instruments of human rights, place at the heart not only of rule obedience, but norm development.
Keywords: medical humanities, norm development, normative, rules, legal Tteory, jurisprudence
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