Events have overtaken the Hippocratic Oath. The noble intentions of past mores grow increasingly inadequate for present guidance. Lower death rate, lengthened life span, changes in life style, the social danger of overpopulation, advancing knowledge and experimentation, poverty and prisons and the atrocity of the South Asian war, the escalation of health care costs, and the inequities of the fee-for-service system with its "catastrophic orientation to illness and disease" catalog unanticipated demands in our present day. Born out of deeply human response to human illness, the medical profession is finding itself challenged to recover its humanistic perspective to human perplexity.
Maurice B. Visscher, MD, professor emeritus of physiology at the University of Minnesota and a former president of the National Society for Medical Research, has drawn together articles by 14 physicians, philosophers, social scientists, and psychiatrists to examine the basic moral premises of medical ethics that require reformulation because of