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Using rhetorical theory in medical ethics cases.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Critical reviews in biomedical engineering
Publication Date
Volume
28
Issue
3 - 4
Pages
551–555
Identifiers
PMID: 11108230
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

In this paper I argue that rhetorical theory is a valuable tool in medical ethics cases. The case I use as an example is one in which traditional, philosophy-based medical ethics are applied. In this case the traditional ethical approach is not adequate to the task. Key issues and problems are not addressed, resulting in a problem that seems to be solved on the surface, but, when rhetorically analyzed, it's obvious that none of the issues have been resolved in any satisfactory way. By using rhetorical theory, such as that Michel Foucault uses in Power/Knowledge, we discover that the reason this case has not been solved is that the power issues have not been addressed. Using Foucault's concepts of "subjugated knowledge", "local knowledge", "situated knowledge", and "docile bodies", we can tease out the real issues that surface in this ethics case and solve them. Foucault also recommends we use theory as a "toolkit". I propose a model that is a further iteration of this idea. My model uses numerous rhetorical and literary theories, depending on the issues that need to be addressed in each individual medical ethics case. I briefly describe the various theories and include a handout of what the new model of using rhetorical theory in such cases would look like.

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