“Signature Religious Virtues in Medical Decision Making,” by John R. Peteet, M.D. and Thomas J. Peteet, M.D.

jird logo for photoThe limitations of principlism have led to a growing interest in the role of the virtues in professionalism and medical decision-making. Although a majority of U.S. physicians report that they try to carry over their religious beliefs into every aspect of life, relatively little attention has been devoted how the virtues embodied in the major religious traditions shape the character, attitudes, and behavior of physicians making bioethical choices. These clearly overlap, but virtues which are especially prominent for Christians include love and grace, for Jews communal responsibility and critical thought, for Muslims reverence and obedience, and for Buddhists equanimity and compassion. Attention to signature virtues could help physicians both in articulating their religious values, and in understanding their implications for practice. Responding to medical dilemmas facing physicians and patients by engaging in dialogue regarding preferred virtues offers a strong complement to principlism.

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