Dharma and medical ethics

Sridevi Seetharam

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2013.070


Despite the numerous policies, regulations and laws aimed at promoting and ensuring ethical practice in healthcare, ethical misconduct remains rampant. Perhaps something more is needed to encourage a genuine and sustained moral attitude and behaviour. To a casual reader, the regulations on ethics read merely as a list of do’s and don’ts and their philosophical foundation is not clear. In actuality, morality is often grounded in philosophy. Traditionally, religious and theistic philosophies drove moral behaviour. However, this is changing due to the current trend of secularism. Hindu philosophies are among the oldest philosophies that are still thriving, and this article explores these philosophies and compares and contrasts them with some of the contemporary ethical theories to assess if they can add value to the field of medical ethics. The main theme of the article is dharma or righteous conduct, the concepts related to it and how these can have a bearing on the development of an ethical attitude and the practice of medical ethics.

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