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Home  >  Medical Research Archives  >  Issue 149  > How Understanding Our Multi-Dimensional Humanity Clarifies Medical Ethics
Published in the Medical Research Archives
May 2023 Issue

How Understanding Our Multi-Dimensional Humanity Clarifies Medical Ethics

Published on May 26, 2023




Medical ethics is increasingly culturally subjective.  A clear understanding of medical ethics must be grounded in a clear philosophy of medicine and philosophical anthropology.  Philosophically, medicine is a profession dedicated to the patient’s health.  A better understanding of health or wholeness will lead to better healing.  Health or wholeness is best understood as well-functioning.  The philosophical and anthropological biopsychosocial-spiritual model informs the roots of well-functioning.  These four interrelated dimensions must be balanced and work in harmony, ultimately aimed at the basic goods (e.g., health, life, and personal integrity among others) and should be strived for but never harmed.  This holistic approach helps determine the primary cause of unwellness while also explaining that biologic healing frequently relies as much on the other dimensions as the biologic treatment.  Historically, physicians refined their skills ensuring that the best biologic means addressed the most well-defined biological diseases. This dimension-specific philosophical framework formed the basis of a physician’s diagnostic investigation.  If the source of unwellness was primarily in another dimension, then appropriate therapeutic referrals to dimension-specific experts were offered.  This framework prevented or corrected egregious excesses due to medicalization of social issues.  Traditional boundaries of medicine are now challenged by contraceptives, elective abortion, cosmetic procedures, and euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide, steering medicine away from treating biologic problems with biologic solutions towards treating psychologic and/or social problems with biologic solutions.  Countries now inconsistently require their physicians to provide biologic means aimed at specific psychologic and/or social goals to advance sexual and/or economic goals, the country’s laws, or patient autonomy.  This is conceptually flawed requiring special exemptions from the profession of medicine while also resulting in biologic harm, damage to the basic goods, and negative psychologic and/or social effects, while transforming medicine into a commodity.  Physicians have an ethical obligation to provide effective biologic means to treat biologic diseases while promoting healing and wholeness among all four dimensions.  On the other hand, physicians have no obligation to use biologic means for non-biologic problems.  This multi-dimensional model with dimension-specific therapies is conceptually consistent, socially agnostic, empirically sound, and provides a clearer understanding of medical ethical obligations.   

Author info

Christopher Lisanti, Sebastian Galante, Allen Betts

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