The internal morality of medicine: An evolutionary perspective

Franklin G. Miller, Howard Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


A basic question of medical ethics is whether the norms governing medical practice should be understood as the application of principles and rules of 'the common morality' to medicine or whether some of these norms are 'internal' or 'proper' to medicine. In this article we describe and defend an evolutionary perspective on 'the internal morality of medicine' that is defined in terms of the goals of clinical medicine and a set of duties that constrain medical practice in pursuit of these goals. This perspective is developed by means of a critical examination of the 'essentialist' conception of the internal morality of medicine advocated by Edmund Pellegrino and the critique of internal morality approaches by Robert Veatch and Tom Beauchamp.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-599
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Internal morality
  • Medical ethics
  • Professional integrity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy


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