Correspondence: Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD, Center for Clinical Bioethics, John Carroll Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics, 4000 Reservoir Road, N.W., 238 Building D, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007, USA. E-mail: email@example.com
The moral authority for professional ethics in medicine customarily rests in some source ‘external’ to medicine, i.e., a pre-existing philosophical system of ethics or some form of social construction, like consensus or dialogue. Rather, ‘internal’ morality is grounded in the phenomena of medicine, i.e., in the nature of the clinical encounter between physician and patient. From this, a philosophy of medicine is derived which gives moral force to the duties, virtues and obligations of physicians qua physicians. Similarly, an ethic specific to the other healing professions, law, teaching or ministry, can be derived from the specific ends or telos of each of these professions, which like medicine, are focused on a special type of human relationship.