The Papers presented at a workshop on "patient-physician relationship," organized by Department of Philosophy, Jadavpur University, have thinkers from various disciplines like religion, philosophy and law discussing a range of issues involved in patient-physician understanding. The concept is viewed in the modern context as well as keeping the indigenous thought tradition in mind. The papers examine the nature and limits of the patient-physician relationship, issues relating to medical ethics, the working of consent and confidentiality, and the link between law and medicine. They look into the role of culture as a determining factor in the patient-physician relationship and the impact of religious beliefs and values on the relationship. They stress the need for a harmonious and balanced relation between the patient and the physician and importance of communication in patient-physician relationship.
The experts specially throw light on feminist concerns about medical practice, such as the need for treatment referring, and examine the way individual characteristics of doctors and patients affect the way they relate to each other. They emphasize on patients being educated and enlightened to be able to exercise their rights.
The volume will prove interesting and informative to medical practitioners and researchers as well as general readers.
About the Author
Ratna Dutta Sharma is Professor of Philosophy of Jadavpur University. She is the author of Philosophical Discourse (2000). She is also the author of several articles on varied subjects, and is co-editing a book Sruti as the Foundation of Hindu Social and Moral Tradition.
Sashinungla is Reader of Philosophy at Jadavpur University. She is the author of Environment Preservation: A Philosophical Critique (2005), and of several articles on peace and conflict studies, culture, and applied philosophy.
Applied Philosophy is one major trust area of research of the Department of Philosophy under its ASIHSS (UGC's Assistance for Strengthening of the Infrastructure of the Humanities to Social Sciences) programme. The Research Group working in this area aims to show the relevance and applicability which philosophy has in dealing with problems encountered in different domains of practical life. This in fact is the aim of Applied Philosophy which, as normally conceived, is concerned with the elaboration of theories purported to give guidance for understanding and handling problems in concrete situations. The members of the group have chosen to specifically focus on problems relating to three domains: Teaching, Medicine and Law.
These general remarks however do not shed much light on the nature and scope of Applied Philosophy. It is better to resort to examples of specific problems in any of the chosen domains with reference to which we may understand how philosophy can be applied.
In the field of "teaching", one such problem could be about the nature and ultimate goal of the prevalent system of teaching. Does the goal, which the system sets before the students, ask for their personal excellence, achievement and professional success only? "Yes, indeed", might be our instant replay expressing an assertive and a received view. Then, how else will our honest and laborious efforts full of sweat, blood and tears be rewarded? It is possible by academic and professional ascents only. Some of us may be displeased when we think what this sort of achievement might lead to? There may be immense psychological pressure, unrestrained competition and self-assertion in the mind of the achiever who flourishes in self-seclusion making him forget the values of care and concern for others.
Philosophers do not have a monopoly in making pronouncements about such matters. But they do have a distinctive role in (1) making us aware of the problems. We need to clarify, analyze and even revise conception, which generate these problems (in this case the conception concerning the goal of teaching). 2. They are also required to discern and make explicit some other conceptions, assumptions, theories and values that seem to support that problem generating conception. (The underlying conception or theory here seems to be a right-based individualistic theory of justice). (3) The philosophers task includes furthermore a critical evaluation, especially about the normative viability of the contentious view cited as an example and also a consideration of other rival positions. Their task is to initiate debates and assess arguments advanced by the debating parties. (4) Yet another task is engagement with methodological issues. What method is to be deployed by practitioners of other disciplines to construct theories? What can be the criteria of theory choice by applying which the rival claims of competing theories can be adjudicated?
These are some of the ways in which philosophy can be applied to other domains also, including the two other fields, which the project has chosen, viz. Medicine and Law. A medical practitioner could be made aware of certain problems. Philosophical debates could be centered on such problems in fields of specialization. Some of these problems may be about- Freedom over one's body; Identity of life; Social implications of various treatments; Doctor-Patient relationship, etc. In the field of Law, the problems which merit scrutiny may be - Relation between legal rights and moral rights; Relation between legal rights and political rights; Relation between justice, law and Power; gender justice; etc.
The typical facets of philosophical activity - conceptual, theoretical, normative, logical and methodological- considered here, do not exhaust the role of Applied Philosophy. In fact the very idea of applying general abstract theories to concrete situations has been challenged by many thinkers. But that too would be an issue which merits philosophical scrutiny.
The department had organized a seminar on the theme: Health, Ethics and Law, in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies; a workshop on Education for Personality Development and Value; and a workshop on Nature and Need of Sex-education in School.
A workshop was also held on the theme: Perspectives of the Patient-Physician Relationship which comes under the purview of Medicine, one of the three major areas on which the project of Applied Philosophy has chosen to focus. The present volume has evolved extra efforts to address conceptual, theoretical, ethical, cultural, legal and methodological issues pertaining to this specific theme which have been elaborated in the Editor's Introduction. It is a collection of Papers written by eminent philosophers and thinkers representing order disciplines. Most of the papers were presented at the workshop.
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